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Copyright  19  8  0 


Linda  Darlene  Moore  Vance 

This  dissertation  is  dedicated  to 
my  family. 


The  author  is  indebted  to  many  people  for  the  comple- 
tion of  this  work.   First,  to  my  children,  who  kept  the 
pressure  on  by  asking  everyday  for  six  years  when  "Momma" 
would  be  through  with  school  and  finished  with  her  book; 
second,  to  the  staff  of  the  P.K.  Yonge  Library  of  Florida 
History  at  the  University  of  Florida — Elizabeth  Alexander, 
Ellen  Hodges,  and  Steve  Kerber — who  were  always  helpful; 
third,  to  Dorothy  Jennings  Sandridge,  who  gave  generously 
of  her  time  and  shared  the  Jennings  family's  papers,  memen- 
toes, and  photographs;  fourth,  to  my  parents  who  financed 
the  undertaking  when  funds  ran  low;  and  finally  to  Dr. 
Samuel  Proctor,  friend,  mentor,  and  chairman  of  my  doctoral 







Notes  to  Chapter  1 17 


Notes  to  Chapter  II 41 


Notes  to  Chapter  III 71 


Notes  to  Chapter  IV Ill 



Notes  to  Chapter  V 142 


Notes  to  Chapter  VI 183 


Notes  to  Chapter  VII 237 


Notes  to  Chapter  VIII 267 


Notes  to  Chapter  IX 297 

X   "  LOVER  OF  BEAUTY" 3  0  0 

Notes  to  Chapter  X 320 



APPENDIX  II   LIST  OF  PRESIDENTS  OF  FFWC ,  1895-1920..  325 






Abstract  of  Dissertation  Presented  to 

the  Graduate  Council  of  the  University  of  Florida 

in  Partial  Fulfillment  of  the  Requirements 

for  the  Degree  of  Doctor  of  Philosophy 



Linda  Darlene  Moore  Vance 

August  1980 

Chairman:   Samuel  Proctor 
Major  Department:   History 

May  Mann  Jennings,  1872-1963,  was  one  of  Florida's 
most  distinguished  twentieth-century  activists.   She  stands 
alone  as  the  state's  most  important  and  successful  female 
citizen.   Unlike  other  civic-minded  women  who  were  married 
to  prominent  Florida  men,  May  Jennings'  many  public  contri- 
butions were  not  dependent  upon  or  overshadowed  by  those  of 
her  husband,  William  Sherman  Jennings,  the  state's  seventeenth 

For  over  sixty  years  she  provided  ideas  and  leader- 
ship to  the  Florida  women's  movement  and  to  other  political 
and  civic  causes.   She  was  unexcelled  as  a  strategist  and 
lobbyist  and  served  on  scores  of  state  boards  and  commissions. 
She  worked  for  progress  in  the  areas  of  education,  conserva- 
tion, beautif ication,  political  reform,  and  female  rights. 
She  also  played  an  active  role  in  making  the  Florida 

Federation  of  Women's  Clubs  politically  viable,  in  estab- 
lishing the  first  state  park,  the  first  State  Board  of 
Forestry,  and  in  the  creation  of  Everglades  National  Park. 
She  was  directly  responsible  for  the  establishment  of 
various  Jacksonville  civic  organizations  and  in  the  plan- 
ning and  implementation  of  many  statewide  beautif ication 
projects.   Late  in  her  career  she  was  honored  by  the 
Florida  Legislature,  Stetson  University,  the  State  Chamber 
of  Commerce,  and  the  University  of  Florida. 

This  assessment  of  May  Jennings'  life  and  contribu- 
tions to  Florida  has   been  based  upon  two  things.   First, 
upon  her  concrete  accomplishments,  as  listed  above,  and 
second,  upon  the  fact  that  she  achieved  many  successes  at 
a  time  when  women  were  either  politically  disfranchised  or 
were  viewed  with  skepticism  and  ridiculed  by  their  male 
counterparts.   Against  great  odds  she  overcame  society's 
roadblocks  and  unselfishly  furthered  the  public  good  while 
at  the  same  time  helping  to  bring  Florida  women  into  the 
political  mainstream. 


A  young  family  from  the  north,  Austin  Mann,  his  wife, 
Rachel,  and  their  baby  daughter,  May,  wintered  in  Ocala  in 
1873.   Impressed  with  the  beauty  of  the  state,  with  the  busi- 
ness opportunities  that  seemed  available,  and  with  the  bene- 
ficial effects  the  warm  climate  had  upon  his  wife's  health, 
Austin  decided  to  make  Florida  the  family's  permanent  home. 
By  autumn  of  the  following  year  he  had  purchased  an  estab- 
lished orange  grove  at  Crystal  River  in  Hernando  County  and 
had  moved  his  family  into  the  small  cottage  on  the  premises. 
They  called  the  place  "Crystal  Grove,"  and  it  became  the 
childhood  home  of  their  daughter  who  would  grow  up  to  become 
one  of  Florida's  most  notable  women. 

Many  people,  places,  and  events  shaped  May  Mann's 
character  and  personality.   First  and  foremost  was  her 
father  who  was  very  much  like  May  in  his  political  ambition 
and  his  ability  to  work  with  people.   May's  parents  shared 
a  loving  relationship.   Little  is  known  about  Rachel  Mann, 
but  more  is  available  on  Austin,  who  became  a  successful 
businessman  and  prominent  Florida  politician.   He  was  a 
dynamic  and  carefree  individual.   Energetic  and  imaginative, 
with  an  inventive  mind,  his  entrepreneurial  talents  develop- 
ed early.   He  was  small  of  stature,  feisty  and  restless  by 

nature,  a  spellbinding  talker,  and  a  natty  dresser  who  had 

an  eye  for  the  ladies.   He  was  a  born  promoter,   what  some 

might  call  a  "wheeler  dealer."    Mann  was  also  a  visionary 

who  was  often  as  impractical  as  he  was  ahead  of  his  time. 

A  free-thinking  nonconformist,  he  was  usually  ready  to  try 

out  new  ideas  and  spent  much  of  his  life  in  economic  and 

political  pursuits  which  brought  him  both  notoriety  and 

financial  rewards. 

By  nearly  every  yardstick,  he  was  already  a  success, 

when  at  the  age  of  twenty-six,  he  moved  his  family  to  Florida. 

Born  in  Delaware  County,  Ohio,  in  1847,  he  attended  local 

schools  and  for  three  years  attended  Capitol  University  at 

Columbus.    He  then  studied  law  with  his  cousin,   G.L. 

Converse,  a  future  congressman,  and  was  admitted  to  the  Ohio 
bar  in  1869.   Mann  was  ambitious  and  interested  in  things 
other  than  the  law,  and  moved  east  where  he  believed  there 
were  more  business  opportunities.   While  at  Mauch  Chunk, 
Pennsylvania,  he  met  and  married  Rachel  Elizabeth  Kline,  the 
second  of  five  children  of  Frederick  C.  Kline  and  Z4arietta 
Staples  Kline,  longtime  residents  of  the  area.   Rachel  had 
thick,  dark  hair,  attractive  features,  and  was  much  admired 
for  her  piano  playing  and  her  clear  soprano  voice.   She  was 
a  Methodist  and  sang  in  the  local  church's  choir.   Unfortu- 
nately, she  suffered  from  poor  health  and  was  to  die  while 

still  in  her  twenties.   She  and  Austin  were  married  on 

April  24,  1871.    On  April  25,  1872,  one  year  and  a  day 

after  the  marriage,  May  Elizabeth  Austin  Mann  was  born  in 

Centerville,  Bayonne  Province,  New  Jersey,  where  the  family 

was  then  residing.    Austin  by  that  time  had  developed  a 

new  type  of  silver  heel  plate  which  proved  valuable  in  the 

manufacture  of  shoes  and  which  brought  him  a  large,  steady 


After  Austin  made  the  decision  to  locate  his  family 
in  Florida,  he  returned  north,  settled  his  business  affairs, 
and  with  $90,000   received  from  selling  the  heel  plate 
patent,  he  purchased  "Crystal  Grove."   Posterity  has  not 
recorded  what  Rachel,  a  refined  young  lady  from  the  urban 
Northeast,  thought  of  Crystal  River  and  its  environs.   She 
was  probably  appalled  by  the  area's  primitiveness  and  iso- 
lation and  disappointed  with  the  house  at  the  grove.   Years 
later,  in  an  interview,  May  remembered  that  the  dwelling 

was  a  small,  crudely-built  cottage  sitting  "on  pine  pillars 

about  eight  to  ten  feet  from  the  ground."    That  first 

encounter  with  the  living  conditions  at  "Crystal  Grove"  must 
have  been  disheartening  since  the  family  had  been  accus- 
tomed to  more  elegant  accommodations.   In  those  days  houses 
in  that  part  of  Florida  had  only  one  major  purpose,  to  pro- 
vide a  high,  dry  place  to  eat  and  sleep.   Austin  soon  built 
a  more  appropriate  and  spacious  home  for  his  family. 

In  the  1870s  Crystal  River  was  scarcely  more  than  a 


hamlet  with  a  population  of  less  than  100  people.    Cut  off 
from  both  major  highway  and  railroad  routes  there  was  only 
one  practical  way  in  or  out  of  the  place.   One  had  to  travel 
aboard  one  of  the  steamers  which  stopped  periodically  to 

discharge  freight  and  to  take  on  firewood  as  it  plied  be- 
tween Cedar  Key  and  Tampa  Bay.  Contemporary  descriptions 
of  the  area  were  not  very  flattering.  Daniel  G.  Brinton, 
who  wrote  a  guidebook  in  1869,  described  the  Hernando  County 

coastal  lowland   as  "rich"  even  though  it  was  "the  most 

unhealthy  part  of  the  penisula."    J.M.  Hawks,  the  author 

of  another  tourguide  published  in  1871  for  "those  who  migrate 
with  the  swallows  and  robins,"  described  Crystal  River  as  a 
"flourishing  village"  whose  inhabitants  made  their  living 
by  farming,  fishing,  tending  citrus  groves,  and  working  in 
the  cedar  sawmills.     The  people  were  described  as  "peace- 
able and  quiet,  frugal  and  hospitable"  but  not  much  interest- 
ed in  politics  or  in  the  outside  world.   There  were  no 
public  schools,  few  churches,  and  the  nearest  newspapers 
were  published  at  Ocala  and  Tampa,  both  a  day's  journey 

Why  Austin  Mann  chose  this  remote  spot  to  locate  is 
not  known.   While  Florida's  tropical  beauty  and  the  promise 
of  better  health  for  his  wife  contributed  to  his  decision, 
it  is  also  obvious  that  he  was  afflicted  with  what  one 
historian  has  called  "orange  fever,"  which  was  sweeping 
Florida  in  the  1870s.     Intrigued  by  tales  of  quick  riches, 
thousands  of  wealthy  Northerners  began  moving  south,  invest- 
ing large  sums  of  money  in  citrus  acreage.   How  simple  it 
all  sounded;  money  figuratively  growing  on  trees  available 
just  for  the  picking.   One  alluring  advertisement  induced 

many  a  Yankee  and  his  money  to  come  to  Florida.   It  stated: 
"Clear  off  one  acre  of  ground.   Plant  but  one  hundred 
orange  trees  twenty-one  feet  apart  and  in  three  years  one 
has  a  capital  of  $10,000  bringing  an  interest  of  10%.   The 

land  will  cost  but  little.   Each  tree  will  produce  1,000 

12  • 

oranges  each  year  bringing  1C  a  piece."     This  promise  is 

more  readily  appreciated  when  one  remembers  that  one  dollar 
in  those  days  was  equivalent  to  approximately  ten  today. 
Would-be  grove  owners  flooded  the  state  but  most  by-passed 
the  remote  Gulf  coast  region. 

Hernando   County  was  a  frontier  area  in  the  1870s. 
Although  former  United  States  Senator  David  Levy  Yulee  had 
his  large  and  prosperous  plantation  there  until  the  1860s, 
few  of  the  area's  original  settlers  remained  after  the 
Civil  War.   Hampton  Dunn,  in  his  history  of  the  county,  says 
"it  was  still  a  frontier,  the  people  hacking  out  a  living 
under  primitive  conditions."     According  to  one  oldtimer, 
"in  the  early  days  bear  and  deer  were  as  common  as  cattle 
now."     Turkey,  otter,  and  other  wildlife  were  also  abun- 
dant.  The  people  lived  off  the  land,  which  was  fertile  and 
productive.   It  was  also  cheap  since  most  of  it  was  nearly 
inaccessible.   Although  less  isolated  than  far  South  Florida 
the  area  was  still  remote  enough  for  its  growth  to  be  hin- 
dered.  Most  supplies  and  mail  arrived  by  water  although 
stagecoaches  ran  from  Ocala  and  Brooksville  weekly  when  the 
weather  was  good.   Such  land  facilities  were  not  very 

dependable.   One  of  those  coaches  was  described  by  a  visi- 
tor to  the  area  as  "a  little  rattletrap  sort  of  affair." 

Austin  Mann,  an  active  and  ambitious  man,  acquired  a 
reputation  in  his  community  as  an  adroit  businessman.   His 
grove  proved  lucrative  and  provided  capital  for  other 
investments.   He  purchased  additional  lands  for  speculative 
purposes  and  undertook  various  innovative  agricultural  ven- 
tures.     Florida's  west  coast  needed  developers  like  him; 

one  writer  noted  that  there  was  not  "a  single  improved 

farming  implement  in  Hernando  County. "     At  one  time  Mann 

tried  raising  sheep  but  the  venture  failed,  even  though  he 

1 8 
imported  high  quality  Marino  stock  from  Spain.     Perhaps 

his  neighbors  had  something  to  do  with  his  failure,  for  the 
cattlemen  in  the  county  resented  the  intrusion  of  the  new 
livestock,  and  they  turned  their  dogs  loose  on  his  flocks. 
Not  to  be  outdone,  he  acquired  the  largest  herd   of  cattle 
in  the  area,  some  200  head.   In  addition  to  his  agricultural 
and  business  interests  he  practiced  law.   He  was  very  much 
interested  in  local  politics,  and  by  1881  he  had  served  two 
terms  as  a  county  commissioner,  had  attended  various  dis- 
trict and  state  political  conventions,  and  had  been  elected 
to  the  1880  Hancock-English  presidential  electoral  ticket. 

Mann  was  able  to  pursue  successful  political  and 
business  careers  simultaneously.   His  ingenuity  and  energies 
were  well-suited  to  the  post-Civil  War  era  in  which  he  lived. 
He  held  to  the  belief  that  progress  and  the  public  good  were 

irrevocably  linked  to  the  many  grand  schemes  in  agriculture, 
timber,  land,  and  railroad  development  which  promoters  and 
investors  were  relentlessly  pursuing  everywhere.   As  a  con- 
sequence he  involved   himself  in  a  number  of  activities 
which  he  hoped  would  attract  settlers  to  Florida  and  make 
money  for  himself  at  the  same  time.   He  became  an  enthusias- 
tic booster  of  railroad,  canal,  and  road  development  within 
his  adopted  state. 

While  Mann  had  the  ideas  and  the  abilities  needed 
to  become  a  nineteenth-century  tycoon,  he  did  not  have  the 
ruthlessness  necessary.   He  was  a  promoter,  but   he  was 
also  a  maverick,  for  unlike  many  entrepreneurs  of  that 
period  he  was  too  trustful  of  those  he  met,  and  he  often 
misjudged  character.   He  also  possessed  a  strong  sympathy 
for  poor  people  and  devoted  time  and  energy  to  provide  them 
more  economic  opportunities  and  a  measure  of  social  and 
legal  justice.   Mann's  forbears  were  Midwestern  Protestants. 
Born  and  raised  on  a  farm,  he  always  thought  of  himself 
first  as  a  farmer  and  then  as  a  businessman.   Thus,  while 
his  abilities  and  personality  enabled  him  to  adjust  to  a 
time  when  capitalists  were  profiting  handsomely  from  the 
development  of  America's  frontiers,  he  himself  was  never  to 
pull  off  the  coveted  "Big  Deal"  and  make  the  millions  he 

If  he  never  became  a  millionaire,  he  was  by  most 
standards  financially  successful.   Unfortunately,  he  never 


managed  his  money  very  well;  he  was  extravagant,  spending 
freely  on  travel,  fine  clothes,  cigars,  horses,  and  expen- 
sive hotels  and  restaurants.   He  also  enjoyed  hob-nobbing 

with  the  rich  and  famous  at  their  elegant  watering  holes 

along  the  East  Coast.     His  wife  and  children  led  as  com- 
fortable and  genteel  a  life  as  frontier  Florida  would 
permit.   His  business  and  political  activities  forced  him 
to  spend  much  time  away  from  his  home.   Though  his  finances 
were  to  fluctuate  his  family  never  felt  any  insecurity,  and 
as  far  as  May  ever  knew  there  was  always  enough  money  avail- 
able to  live  well.   She  grew  up  feeling  both  emotionally 
and  financially  secure.   Like  her  father,  she  v/as  also  to 
champion  the  less  fortunate,  work  for  social  and  political 
progress,  and  promote  Florida  and  its  people. 

Austin  Mann's  spendthrift  nature  sometimes  forced 
him  into  debt,  but  mortgages  and  personal  loans  helped  carry 
him  between  harvests,  elections,  and  business  deals.   On 
occasion  he  was  on  the  brink  of  bankruptcy,  but  he  managed 
to  recover,  relying  on  little  more  than  his  perseverance. 
He  never  lost  his  optimistic  outlook.   Even  in  the  bleakest 
of  times  he  believed  things  would  work  out  well.   Through 
the  years  during  dark  times  he  wrote  his  family  the  follow- 
ing: "I  can't  make  a  deal  at  all.   Seems  tomorrow  I  think  I 
will  see  a  ray  of  light.  ...   It  is  simply  almost  impossi- 
ble to  get  men  willing  to  part  with  cash  and  strange  to  say 
I  have  been  parting  with  mine  very  rapidly  but  I  know  how 
to  do  once  I  am  busted,"  and,  "It  takes  pluck  to  make  a 

deal  at  these  times.   If  I  fall  down  I  might  as  well  keep 
going.  ...   I  am  a  fair  sample  of  a  gambler  or  like 
Napoleon  believe  in  my  Lucky  Star.   Yet  even  those  who  have  a 

Lucky   Star  fail  to  see  it  in  cloudy  weather.   Yet  I  am  in 

good  spirits."     To  his  daughter  he  wrote,  "Why  worry  and 

make  of  life  so  anxious  a  matter?   What  you  can't  help 

don't  worry  about.   Dear,  you  take  life  too  seriously.   It 

is  a  large  joke."     May  was  to  inherit  her  father's  posi- 

tiveness  but  not  his  nonchalant  fatalism.   She  had  her  feet 
planted  more  firmly  on  the  ground. 

Austin  Mann  had  a  wide-ranging  career.   At  one  time 
or  another  after  arriving  in  Florida  he  practiced  law,  owned 
and  managed  several  sizable  citrus  groves  and  out-of-state 
peach  farms,  and  operated  a  newspaper.   He  was  elected  to 
public  office  and  was  a  leader  in  his  political  party.   He 
promoted  railroad,  canal,  and  land  development  schemes, 
headed    the  Florida  Orange  and  Vegetable  Auction  Company, 
managed  the  Florida  Home  Market  and  the  Sub-Tropical  Expo- 
sition, served  as  president  of  the  Florida  State  Agriculture 

Association,  and  organized  the  Florida  "Good  Roads"  move- 

ment.     This  peripatetic  lifestyle,  together  wxth  his 

active  mind,  caused  one  friend  to  refer  to  him  as  a  "brainy, 


rushing  man."     He  himself  admitted:  "I  have  to  be  moving. 

I  hear  the  rumbling  of  the  [railroad]  car  and  must  move  on 

even  if  it  overtakes  me."     Throughout  his  life  he  remain- 
ed busy  traveling,  politicking,  and  organizing  business 


deals.   He  was  reluctant  to  stop  and  rest  although  late  in 
life  he  wrote  his  family:  "I  sometimes  get  tired  of  rambling 

always  waiting  for  a  deal  to  close.  ...   I  am  going  to 

get  into  something  else.   I  am  tired  of  skimming  wind." 

May  inherited  her  father's  restlessness  and  tireless  vital- 
ity, but  she  was  able  to  channel  her  energies  into  more 
practical,  worthwhile  public  service. 

Throughout  his  career,  Mann  was  undaunted  by  incon- 
sistencies; he  championed  liberal  political  beliefs  while 
still  insisting  upon  a  laissez-faire  capitalistic  economic 
philosophy.   Apparently  he  was  not  aware  of  these  incompat- 
ibilities.   Accused  sometimes  of  being  a  secret  Republican, 
he  was  identified  from  time  to  time  over  the  years  as  a 
Democrat,  Independent,  Allianceman,  and  Populist.   His 
inconsistencies,  plus  the  various  situations  and  alliances 
he  seemed  always  to  be  enmeshed  in,  led  his  political 
opponents  to  accuse  him  of  erratic  and  fickle  behavior. 
Enemies  accused  him  at  one  time  or  another  of  being  "an 
aristocrat,"  "a  first-class  demagogue,"  "a  land  shark"  and 
a  "Political  Nondescript."     Naturally  his  admirers  and 
friends  viewed  him  much  differently.   If  his  unconventional 
hybrid  politics  defy  classification,  it  is  obvious  that  he 
was  a  shrewd  politician  who  possessed  superior  abilities  and 
who  seemed  to  thrive   on  the  rough  and  tumble  of  Florida 
politics.   Regardless  of  the  assessment  of  Mann  by  friend 
or  foe  he  left  his  mark  on  Florida  and  on  its  business  and 
political  institutions. 


During  the  years  that  Mann  was  consolidating  his 
business  interests  and  establishing  a  political  career  his 
family  continued  to  increase.   Three  years  after  May's  birth, 
a  boy,  Roy  Frederick,  was  born.   In  1876  a  second  daughter, 
Nina  Lucy,  joined  the  family,  and  in  1879,  Grace  Irene  was 
born.27   A  fifth  child,  Carl,  died  shortly  after  birth. 

"Crystal  Grove"  was  a  lively  place  to  live  in  the 
1870s;  it  was  not  only  the  family's  homestead,  but  also 
Mann's  political  headquarters.   During  these  years  May's 
lifelong  fascination  with  politics  began.   From  early  child- 
hood she  watched  her  father's  political  friends  come  and  go. 
The  lights  often  burned  late  at  the  Mann  home  while  her 
papa  and  his  associates  held  meetings  to  talk  over  political 
strategy.   One  can  perhaps  imagine  the  little  girl  standing 
in  the  shadows  listening  to  the  discussions  as  the  grownups 
sat  around  the  dinner  table  and  talked  politics.   May  was 
the  only  one  of  the  Mann  children  to  develop  any  inclination 
toward  politics. 

Her  father  was  the  most  important  personal  influence 
on  her  during  her  childhood  years.   Similar  to  him  in  per- 
sonality and  habits,  she  followed  in  his  footsteps  by  later 
pursuing  her  own  public  career.   From  her  mother  she  inherit- 
ed artistic  talents,  but  from  her  father  she  inherited  a 
zest  for  life,  and  an  optimistic  outlook  that  was  never  to 
leave  her.   She  also  inherited  his  love  of  politics.   From 
the  beginning  Mann  treated  his  eldest  daughter  as  his 


favorite.   He  never  excluded  her  from  adult  activities  or 
discussions,  and  he  never  assumed  that  there  were  some 
things  she  could  not  do  just  because  she  was  a  girl.   This 
liberating  notion  was  to  have  a  key  place  in  her  own  philos- 
ophy of  life.   To  her  politics  was  just  as  legitimate  an 
interest  for  women  as  for  men.   This  radical,  but  to  her 
natural,  belief  was  to  thrust  her  to  the  forefront  of  the 
women's  movement  just  at  the  time  when  females  were  begin- 
ning to  enter  Florida's  political  arena. 

The  Crystal  River  area  began  to  expand  with  the 
arrival  of  new  settlers.   The  Manns  were  recognized  as  one 
of  the  most  prosperous  and  prominent  families  in  the  county. 
If  life  was  comparatively  simple,  it  was  not  dull.   Children 
were  educated  either  at  home  or  at  one  of  the  small  private 
schools  in  the  town.   In  addition  to  the  usual  household 
and  farm  chores,  there  were  picnics,  church  socials,  polit- 
ical rallies,  fishing  trips,  blackberry  hunts,  holiday 
celebrations,  orange  harvest  time,  romps  in  the  new  cut 
hay,  and  buggy  rides  down  shady,  moss  draped  forest  lanes. 
May  especially  enjoyed  horseback  riding.   She  liked  to 
perform  stunts  and  do  acrobatics  while  riding  her  horse. 
She  became  an  expert  horsewoman.   Years  later  she  hung  her 

girlhood  saddle  and  riding  habit  in  her  Jacksonville  home 

2  8 
as  a  gentle  reminder  of  those  earlier,  carefree  days. 

Even  "Crystal  Grove"  itself  was  to  have  an  influence 

upon  her.   To  grow  up  in  rural  Florida's  tropical  wilderness, 


in  the  midst  of  a  citrus  grove  where  the  sweet  scents  and 
beauty  of  nature  were  as  close  as  the  very  air  itself,  was 
to  leave  a  deep  impression  upon  her.   It  produced  in  her  a 
lifelong  love  of  the  outdoors.   Plants,  trees,  flowers,  and 
wildlife  became  for  her  a  special  and  precious  part  of  life. 
Later  she  planned  and  developed  award-winning  gardens  and 
she  owned  thousands  of  acres  of  Florida  land.   Because  of 
her  attachment  to  nature  she  became  a  recognized  leader  in 
the  movement  to  conserve  and  preserve  Florida's  tropical 
wilderness.   Of  all  her  public  works  her  commitment  to  this 
cause  never  wavered.   At  times  it  would  take  precedence 
over  all  her  other  interests.   When  grown  she  remembered 
"Crystal  Grove"  with  fondness.   She  wrote:  "My  memory  lingers 
caressingly  over  the  years  spent  in  dear  old  Hernando  .  .  . 

back  to  my  childhood  .  .  .  Crystal  River  is  very  dear  to 



After  188  0  the  Mann  family  was  never  the  same.   First 
Nina  Lucy,  four  years  of  age,  died  during  the  summer  of  1880. 
Rachel,  pregnant  with  the  family's  fifth  child  and  weak 
from  a  chronic  cough,  never  recovered  from  the  death  of 
her  child.   The  next  winter  she  contracted  what  the  family 
believed  was  a  severe  cold  but  in  reality  was  advanced 
tuberculosis.   Unable  to  recover  her  strength  she  traveled 
to  Pennsylvania  to  live  with  her  parents  and  try  to  regain 
her  health  as  she  awaited  the  birth  of  her  new  child.   Carl 
Mann  was  born  on  March  25,  1881,  but  Rachel  never  recovered. 
Weak  and  unable  to  care  for  her  baby  properly  he  too  took 


sick  and  died  only  a  few  months  after  his  birth.   This  was 
a  blow  from  which  Rachel  Mann  never  recovered.   Bedridden 

and  unable  to  care  for  herself  she  lingered  less  than  a 


year  and  died  at  her  parents'  home  on  August  20,  1882. 

She  was  only  twenty-eight .   The  medical  cause  of  her  passing 
was  tuberculosis,  but  grief  no  doubt  played  a  major  role. 
Austin  was  at  her  bedside  when  she  died.   A  gentle  woman, 
Florida  friends  remembered  her  as  one  who  would  "mount  her 
horse  with  her  babe  and  a  basket  of  necessaries  in  her  arms,  and 
ride  ten  miles  through  the  forest  to  minister  to  the  sick 
and  poor."     She  was  buried  in  Bethlehem,  Pennsylvania. 

The  loss  of  Nina  Lucy  affected  May  deeply,  but 
nothing  was  to  overwhelm  her  and  change  her  life  quite  as 
much  as  the  death  of  her  mother.   Years  later  when  May  was 
directing  the  clubwomen  of  Florida  in  public  health  work 
she  wrote  to  a  colleague,  who  was  proposing  an  anti-tubercu- 
losis campaign,  "I  do  not  think  there  is  any  more  important 
work.  ...   I  lost  my  mother  with  the  disease,  when  I  was 

a  little  girl  of  nine.  ...   So  you  see  the  matter  comes 


very  close  to  me."     It  is  not  difficult  to  imagine  what 

a  mother's  death  can  mean  to  such  a  young  child,  but  in 
May's  case  it  is  known  that  drastic  changes  took  place  in 
her  life.   She  became  the  eldest  female  in  the  household 
and  she  was  forced  to  assume  responsibilities  beyond  her 
years.   Her  mother's  death  was  a  deep  personal  loss.   In 
later  years  she  hung  an  oil  painting  of  her  mother  in  her 


bedroom,  and  one  of  the  first  things  she  did  each  morning 
was  to  wipe  the  moisture  and  dust  from  that  portrait.   It 

was  a  symbolic  gesture  allowing  her  to  express  her  innermost 


feelings . 

Austin  Mann  was  also  faced  with  a  serious  problem. 
How  was  he  to  raise  three  children  alone?   There  were  ser- 
vants in  the  house  but  they  could  hardly  be  expected  to 
provide  the  close  supervision  and  guidance  which  the 
children  needed.   He  himself  had  neither  the  inclination 
nor  the  time  to  take  on  that  responsibility,  for  at  the 
moment  he  was  in  the  midst  of  an  intense  political  campaign 
for  the  state  senate.   Two  months  after  his  wife's  death 
the  following  item  appeared  in  a  Tampa  paper:  "The  Democrats 
of  Hernando  County  have  succeeded  in  getting  their  local 
politics  into  a  terrible  tangle.   It  seems  the  Mann  nomi- 
nated for  the  Senate,  was  not  the  man  they  wanted  at  all, 

so  another  'Conservative  Democrat'  has  come  out  Independent- 

ly  against  him."     Mann  won  the  election,  and  the  problem 

of  how  to  care  for  his  children  became  more  acute  than  ever. 

Crystal  River  friends  helped  out  temporarily  but  a 

more  permanent  arrangement  was  necessary  if  Mann  was  to 

fulfill  his  public  duties  and  be  sure  that  his  children's 

needs  were  properly  met.   He  persuaded  his  cousin  and  her 

husband  to  come  from  Ohio  to  live  at  "Crystal  Grove"  and  to 

care  for  the  children  while  he  attended  the  legislative 

session  at  Tallahassee.   The  arrangement  was  only  for  a 

short  while  because  the  couple  had  to  return  to  their  own 


home  after  a  few  months.   Mann  then  took  the  children  to 

Jacksonville  where  they  lived  with  friends,  but  this  too 

proved  unsatisfactory.     Once  more  he  was  faced  with  the 

problem  of  what  to  do.   In  October,  18  83,  he  thought  he 
had  found  a  solution.   Roy  was  to  be  cared  for  by  family 
friends  in  Brooksville,  and  May  and  Grace  were  enrolled  as 
year-round  boarders  at  St.  Joseph's  Academy,  a  convent 
school  in  St.  Augustine. 

Austin  Mann  continued  to  cultivate  both  his  grove 
and  his  political  career.   In  1885  he  married  again.   His 
second  wife  was  Susie  B.  Williams  of  Nashville,  Tennessee. 
Once  more  there  was  a  mother  in  the  household  but  only  for 
a  brief  time.   She  too  died  a  short  time  later  in  child- 
birth.    Again  Austin  was  left  a  widower,  and  now  there 
was  a  newborn  infant  to  care  for.   The  family  with  which 
Roy  was  living  agreed  to  take  Austin,  Jr.   The  girls  remained 
at  the  academy,  and  a  new  chapter  in  May's  life  began. 


Notes  to  Chapter  I 

John  Q.  Langford,  Jr. ,  "Senator  Austin  S.  Mann" 
(unpublished  MS.,  Gainesville,  1950),  P.K.  Yonge  Library 
of  Florida  History,  n.p. 


Interview  with  Dorothy  Brown  Jennings.   July  27, 

1978,  Penney  Farms,  Florida. 

Florida  Legislative  Directory  12th  Session  1883, 

p.  59.   Austin  Mann  was  born  January  14,  1847. 

Elizabeth  Bell  Hightower  to  author.   July  2,  1978. 

Rachel  Kline  was  born  on  September  11,  1852. 

Lucy  Worthington  Blackman,  The  Women  of  Florida 
(Jacksonville,  1939),  II,  p.  92.         "   ~  ~"    " 


Langford,  Jr.,  "Senator  Austin  S.  Mann,"  n.p. 


Richard  J.  Stanaback,  A  History  of  Hernando  County, 
1840-1975  (Brooksville,  1976),  p.  47. 

David  G.  Brinton,  A  Guidebook  of  Florida  and  the 

South  for  Tourists,  Invalids,  and  Immigrants  (Jacksonville, 

1869) ,  p.  107. 

J.M.  Hawks,  The  Florida  Gazetteer  (New  Orleans, 
1871) ,  p.  45. 

R.A.  Divine,  "The  History  of  Citrus  Culture  in 
Florida,  1565-1895"  (unpublished   MS.,  Gainesville,  1952), 
P.K.  Yonge  Library  of  Florida  History,  n.p. 


Hawks,  Florida  Gazetteer,  p.  45. 


Hampton  Dunn ,  Back  Home:  A  History  of  Citrus  County, 

Florida  (Inverness,  1978),  p.  74. 


Ibid. ,  p.  67. 


George  M.  Barbour,  Florida  for  Tourists,  Invalids 

and  Settlers  (New  York,  1882),  p.  53. 

"I  c 

Hernando  County  land  ownership  certificates  for 
79.8,  119.7,  40,  41.6,  80.7,  and  40.1  acres,  1882.   Austin 
Shuey  Mann  Papers   (3  Boxes),  Box  1.   P.K.  Yonge  Library  of 
Florida  History,  Gainesville  (hereafter  cited  as  the  ASM 
Papers) . 


Hawks,  Florida  Gazetteer,  p.  46. 


Langford,  Jr.,  "Senator  Austin  S.  Mann,"  n.p. 


Interview  with  Dorothy  Brown  Jennings. 


A.S.  Mann  to  May  M.  Jennings,  October  5,  19  03, 

December  4,  1903,  and  December  14,  1903.   May  Mann  Jennings 
Papers  (19  Boxes) ,  Box  1  (hereafter  cited  as  MMJ  Papers) . 
A.S.  Mann  to  William  S.  Jennings,  August  22,  1899.   William 
S.  Jennings  Papers  (28  Boxes) ,  Box  3.   P.K.  Yonge  Library 
of  Florida  History,  Gainesville  (hereafter  cited  as  WSJ 
Papers) . 


A.S.  Mann  to  May  Jennings,  August  9,  1906,  December 

10,  19  03.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  2. 


Langford,  Jr.,  "Senator  Austin  S.  Mann,"  n.p. 


S.S.  Harvey  to  A.S.  Mann,  June  5,  19  02.   ASM  Papers, 

Box  1. 


A.S.  Mann  to  May  Jennings,  December  22,  1903.   MMJ 

Papers,  Box  2. 


A.S.  Mann  to  Marietta  Staples  Kline,  December  22, 

19  03;  and  to  May  Jennings,  October  11,  19  04.   MMJ  Papers, 

Box  2. 

2  ft 

Landford,  Jr.,  "Senator  Austin  S.  Mann,"  n.p. 


United  States  Census,  10th, 1880  Florida, Hernando 



Interview  with  Dorothy  Jennings  Sandridge,  June  8, 

1978.   Orange  Park,  Florida. 


Speech,  May  Jennings,  "What  Brooksville  and  Hernando 

County  Can  Be  If  Her  People  Will,"  1915.   MMJ  Papers,  Box 
16.   May  Jennings  to  Mrs.  Louis  Thompson,  May  18,  1917. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  10. 

Mann- Jennings  family  Bible  in  possession  of  Dorothy 
Jennings  Sandridge. 


Undated  and  unidentified  newspaper  clipping  in  pos- 
session of  Dorothy  Jennings  Sandridge. 


May  Jennings  to  Dr.  Grace  Whitford,  September  7, 

1917.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  11. 


Tampa  Sunland  Tribune,  October  20,  1882. 

Interview  with  Dorothy  Brown  Jennings. 


Biographical  sketch  of  May  Mann  Jennings,  1919. 

MMJ  Papers,  Box  16. 

Austin  Mann,  Jr. ,  was  born  in  Tallahassee,  December 
20,  1886. 


May  Mann  and  her  sister  remained  at  the  St.  Augustine 
convent  for  almost  seven  years,  a  period  that  would  leave 
an  indelible  mark  upon  the  girls.   Although  they  were  only 
eleven  and  five  at  the  time,  St.  Joseph's  Academy  provided 
May  and  Grace  with  the  personal  attention,  discipline,  and 
education  that  they  needed.    They  received  moral  guidance 
and  a  sound  education,  and  they  left  the  school  with  a 
strong  sense  of  duty  and  an  understanding  of  their  responsi- 
bility to  society. 

While  the  convent  provided  the  girls  the  love  and  care 
they  needed,  Roy  and  Austin,  Jr.,  were  not  so  fortunate. 
They  were  to  become  alienated  and  to  develop  behavior  prob- 
lems which  later  brought  dismay  and  grief  to  the  family. 
The  contrast  between  Austin  Mann's  sons  and  his  two  daugh- 
ters was  striking  and  can  only  be  attributed  to  the  dif- 
ference in  the  quality  of  their  respective  up-bringings. 

The  school  at  St.  Augustine  was  operated  by  the  Sisters 

of  St.  Joseph,  a  Catholic  order  which  had  been  organized  at 

Le  Puy,  France,  in  1648.    The  order  came  to  America  at  the 

summons  of  Bishop  Augustine  Verot  after  the  Civil  War  to 

minister  to  the  newly-freed  Florida  slaves.   Arriving  in 

St.  Augustine  in  1866,  they  established  one  of  the  state's 


first  schools  for  Negroes.   A  school  for  white  boys  was 
soon  added,  and  in  1877  a  school  for  white  girls  was  estab- 
lished.    The  sisterhood  started  academies  elsewhere  in  the 
state,  the  most  important  at  Jacksonville  and  Fernandina. 
The  St.  Augustine  school  was  the  original  institution  and 
the  site  of  the  Motherhouse  of  the  order  in  America.   From 
the  time  the  nuns  arrived  in  Florida  they  raised  money  to 
support  themselves  and  their  schools  by  teaching,  giving 
private  art,  music,  and  French  lessons,  and  by  selling 
their  famous  delicate,  handmade  lace.   By  1883,  when  May 

and  Grace  enrolled  at  St.  Joseph,  its  reputation  as  a  highly 

respected  educational  institution  was  firmly  established. 

From  1874  until  198  0  the  convent  and  academy  have 
occupied  the  same  site  in  St.  Augustine.   The  O'Reilly 
house,  one  of  the  city's  oldest  structures,  and  still  main- 
tained by  the  order,  once  served  as  the  academy.   When  May 
entered  the  school,  however,  there  was  a  new  three-story 
building  which  housed  the  classrooms,  chapel,  and  a  dormi- 
tory.  It  was  of  Mediterranean  style  architecture,  construc- 
ted of  coquina  and  brick,  overlaid  with  white  plaster,  and 
it  had  a  red  tile  roof.   It  fronted  on  St.  George  street 
and  was  only  two  blocks  from  the  waterfront  and  historic 

market  square.   The  building  still  stands  and  is  still  in 

use  by  the  order. 

During  the  1880s  the  school  was  surrounded  by  spacious 

grounds  which  contained  vegetable,  fruit  and  flower  gardens, 


grape  arbors,  and  a  quaint  little  octagonal-shaped  gazebo. 
The  entire  property  of  several  acres  was  enclosed  by  a  high 
rock  wall  which  provided  privacy.   Great  wooden  gates  marked 
the  entrances.   The  place  projected  a  friendly,  inviting 
appearance  because  of  the  lovely  tropical  vines  and  flowers 
that  cascaded  over  the  walls. 

From  the  time  the  academy  first  began  enrolling  white 
students  most  of  them  came  from  St.  Augustine  and  the  sur- 
rounding area.   There  were  some,  however,  from  elsewhere  in 
Florida.   Students  of  all  religious  persuasions,  including 
those  who  were  not  Christian,  were  admitted,  but  the  majority 
were  Catholics.   The  Manns  were  Baptists,  and  May  and  Grace 
maintained  that  faith  throughout  their  years  at  the  academy. 

St.  Joseph's  Academy  was  unique;  unlike  most  institutions 
in  the  South,  with  perhaps  the  exception  of  schools  in  New 
Orleans,  it  projected  an  international  flavor.   The  nuns 
were  French  and  many  of  the  students  came  from  Spanish, 
Minorcan,  and  Italian  backgrounds.   This  fact  perhaps  added 
to  May's  natural  inquisitive,  searching  nature.   She  was  al- 
ways interested  in  other  places  and  peoples.   She  was  well- 
read  and  tried  to  learn  as  much  about  other  people  and  far- 
away places  as  possible.   She  liked  to  travel  and  to  read 
about  other  countries.   Her  interest  in  new  ideas  and 
different  cultures  was  obvious  to  her  friends  and  associates. 
Once,  in  explanation  of  her  liberal  attitude,  she  wrote,  "I 

was  educated  in  a  convent  and  I  look  at  life  through  much 

broader  glasses  than  the  average  person  does. 


When  May  entered  St.  Joseph's  the  superior  was  Mother 
Marie  Lazarus  Lhostal  and  the  principal  was  Sister  Margaret 
Mary,  both  pioneer  workers  in  the  order.   They  became  May's 
mentors  and  counselors  and  were  to  remain  her  friends  long 
after  she  left  the  school.   The  steadying  influence  of  the 
nuns  at  the  convent  left  May  with  an  equanimity  and  equipoise 
which  she  carried  the  rest  of  her  life. 

May  looked  after  Grace  while  they  lived  at  the  school. 
Their  close  relationship  enabled  them  to  maintain  a  sense 
of  family  and  prevented  them  from  feeling  isolated  and  for- 
gotten.  Grace  remained  under  May's  guardianship  until  years 
later  when  she  was  married  and  had  established  a  home  of 
her  own.   The  girls  lived  in  a  large  dormitory  room  on  the 
top  floor  of  the  school  building.   "From  the  moment  young 
girls  arrived  at  the  convent  they  were  struck  by  the  kind- 
ness of  the  sisters,  women  who  wore  long  black  dresses  and 
veils,  and  white  guimpes  (collars)  starched  of  linen,  which 
they  called  holy  habits.   Almost  immediately,  the  sisters 
would  take  the  newcomer  upstairs  to  be  assigned  her  place 
in  the  dormitory.   The  first  sight  that  met  the  eye  left 
an  impression  of  spotless  cleanliness:  long  rows  of  (iron) 
beds  neatly  curtained  in  white  and  windows  that  opened 
almost  to  the  floor,  set  in  a  large  room  made  airy  by  tall 
ceilings.   Off  the  dormitory  was  the  lavatory,  with  several 
basins,  tubs  and  stalls.   Washing  one's  face  in  sulphur  water 
was  a  new  experience  for  some.   Supper  in  the  refectory 


(seldom  called  the  dining  room)  was  served  after  dark,  and 
then  the  girls  gathered  for  what  the  sisters  called  recrea- 
tion.  Bells  sounded  for  all  changes  of  occupation  and  when 
the  bell  rang,  very  loudly,  for  retiring,  the  rules  of  the 
academy  were  that  the  girls  were  to  obey  immediately.   A 
new  girl  went  through  a  period  of  orientation,  learning  the 
rules,  including  early  rising,  and  going  through  the  beau- 
tiful grounds  of  the  academy.   Students  there  interchanged 

the  words  academy  and  convent  as  if  they  were  the  same,  but 

the  convent  was  off  bounds  for  the  students." 

The  girls  were  allowed  to  take  but  few  personal  items 
to  the  school,  but  each  had  that  omnipresent  boarding  school 
object,  the  traveling  trunk,  in  which  she  kept  her  most 
personal  and  prized  possessions.   Twice  each  year  the  school 
had  a  "trunk  day."   The  boarders  carted  the  musty  old  things, 
some  of  which  were  quite  large,  out  of  the  dormitory  and 
down  to  the  grounds  below,  where  amongst  the  roses  and  fruit 
trees  they  opened  them  up  and  aired  out  their  contents. 
"Trunk  day"  was  looked  forward  to  with  some  anticipation 
for  it  was  like  a  holiday  with  fun  and  laughter  and  the 
exchanging  and  swapping  of  prized  treasures. 

Despite  the  confinement  and  strict  rules,  life  at  St. 
Joseph's  was  not  gloomy  or  harsh.   The  girls  received,  along 
with  the  academic  course,  a  traditional  southern-style 
finishing  school  education.   A  school  prospectus  described 
the  school's  offerings.   Discipline  was  "mild  but  firm," 


and  the  instruction  the  kind  where  "young  ladies  (were) 
tenderly  cared  for  and  trained  not  only  in  matters  of  knowl- 


edge,  but  also  in  the  principles  of  refined  deportment." 
There  was  constant  emphasis  on  morals  and  manners. 

Tuition  and  board  were  $140  per  year.   There  were  no 
uniforms  except  on  Sundays  when  the  girls  were  required  to 
wear  black  dresses,  white  shirtwaists ,  and  high-buttoned 
shoes.   Rules  and  regulations  were  closely  supervised,  and 
included   "strict  adherence  to  correct  and  refined  language, 
polite  deportment,  gentle  and  engaging  manners  at  all  times, 
mandatory  attendance  at  all  public  exercises,  the  obser- 
vance of  silence  except  in  hours  of  recreation,  no  visits 
home  during  the  entire  year,  the  subjection  of  letters  and 

packages  to  inspection,  and  the  prohibition  of  private 


friendships. " 

"Music,  both  vocal  and  instrumental,  as  well  as  draw- 
ing and  painting,  received  special  attention.   The  latest  in 
chemistry  apparatus  was  at  the  command  of  the  pupils. 
Boarders  were  taught,  without  extra  charge,  plain  sewing, 
embroidery,  different  kinds  of  needle  work  and  the  making 
of  French  lace.   Every  means  was  taken  on  the  part  of  the 
sisters  to  make  the  academy  not  only  a  place  where  knowledge 
and  manners  were  acquired,  but  also  to  make  the  institution 
a  happy  home  for  the  pupils  during  their  school  terms.  .  .  . 
The  academy  had  some  modern  conveniences,  with  water  through- 
out the  house  and  cold  and  warm  sulphur  baths  available.  .  .  , 
Convent  girls  learned  to  live  by  group  rules." 

One  boarder  left  this  delightful  description  of  the 
typical  day  in  the  life  of  a  St.  Joseph  girl:  "There  are 
always  some  sleepy  heads  among  the  crowd,  so  the  sister  in 
charge  has  to  shake  the  lazy  ones  and  tell  them  the  bell 
has  rung.   When  all  are  up  one  of  the  girls  says  prayers 
and  some  answer.   Sometimes  I  do  and  sometimes  I  don't.   It 
depends  on  how  I  feel.   Then  we  hurry  to  dress--not  much 
time  for  primping  but  if  you  do  not  look  neat  you  are 
ordered  back  to  the  dormitory  before  school  and  lose  a  mark 
on  neatness.   Besides  you  are  reprimanded  by  one  of  the 
sisters  before  the  other  girls.   As  we  do  not  enjoy  that  we 
try  to  look  our  prettiest.   The  next  thing  we  hear  is  the 
clapping  of  hands.   That  is  another  signal  and  it  means  that 
it  is  time  for  Mass.   We  have  one  little  girl  who  primps  so 
long  before  the  glass  that  she  is  never  ready  to  go  down- 
stairs with  the  rest.   You  can  hear  her  thin  voice  chirp- 
ing out,  'Please  don't  lock  the  door,  sister.'   Sister 
stood  the  nonsense  as  long  as  she  could,  but  one  day  she 
locked  the  young  lady  in  and  the  rest  of  us  proceeded  on 
our  way.   The  young  lady  rushed  downstairs  on  the  sisters' 
side  of  the  house  and  met  us  on  the  second  landing,  and 
talked  indignantly  about  being  closed  in.   Downstairs  this 
is  what  we  met:  'Well,  girls,  I  thought  a  regiment  of 
soldiers  was  coming  and  not  a  crowd  of  convent  girls. '   We 
know  who  was  the  guilty  one  but  said  nothing.   We  went  a 
little  farther  on  when  out  popped  a  sister  from  the 


chapel:  'What  do  you  mean,  girls,  by  talking  so  loud.   You 
knov;  you  are  not  permitted  to  talk  going  to  or  coming  from 
the  chapel.'   All  looked  at  one  another  and  giggled  a  little 
and  then  proceeded  to  the  chapel.   We  are  expected  to  be 
there  on  time  to  say  morning  prayers  before  Mass,  but  some- 
times we  are  too  late  and  other  times  we  are  too  soon.   It 
is  very  seldom,  however,  that  we  fail  by  being  too  early. 
Mass  over  we  march  out  to  breakfast.   Occasionally  some 
girls  will  laugh  or  talk  so  much  that  we  all  are  called 
back  and  made  to  walk  from  the  chapel  to  the  refectory  again. 
By  this  time  we  are  quite  hungry  and  are  ready  for  break- 
fast so  we  behave.   After  breakfast  we  go  upstairs  and  make 
up  our  beds;  then  some  go  to  practice,  others  to  study. 
From  half-past  eight  to  half-past  two  we  are  in  school. 
From  two- thirty  until  four  we  do  fancy  work,  play  or  read, 
from  four  to  six  we  study,  at  six  we  go   to  the  chapel  to 
say  the  beads.   When  the  beads  are  said,  we  go  to  supper. 
After  supper,  if  it  is  pleasant,  we  recreate  in  the  yard; 
if  not  we  go  to  the  sitting  room  where  the  sister  reads 
aloud  to  us  large  girls  while  we  work  on  embroidery.   The 
juniors  at  their  end  of  the  room  play  games  or  talk.   Some- 
times they  forget  they  are  in  the  house  and  become  too 
boisterous  then  sister  stops  reading  to  say,  'Not  so  loud, 
girls.'   At  eight-fifteen  the  bell  rings  to  retire.   We  go 
to  the  chapel  and  one  of  the  older  girls  says  night  prayers. 
Then  we  must  go  in  silence  and  order  to  the  dormitory.   Some 


of  us  would  like  to  'cut  up'  but  we  know  that  if  we  do  not 
go  up  in  order,  we  will  be  marched  down  again  and  again 
until  we  do  as  we  are  told;  as  that  is  not  very  enjoyable 
we  usually  try  to  behave.   Some  are  noble  enough  to  do  right 
because  it  is  right,  but  others — well,  it  takes  all  kinds 
of  people  to  make  a  world." 

Life  within  the  confines  of  St.  Joseph's  Academy  was 
not  completely  isolated.   During  the  1880s,  when  May  lived 
there,  St.  Augustine  was  a  lively  city.   Henry  Flagler  had 
become  fascinated  with  the  area,  where  he  came  on  his 
honeymoon  in  1883,  and  had  decided  to  turn  the  town  into  a 
fashionable  winter  resort  for  the  rich.   During  the  decade 
the  place  underwent  a  major  boom  in  building  and  expansion. 
There  was  an  excitement  which  permeated  all  of  north  Florida. 
Northern  tourists,  many  in  their  private  railroad  cars, 
arrived  to  stay  in  the  magnificent  hotels,  the  Ponce  de  Leon, 
the  Alcazar,  and  the  Cordova,  which  Flagler  built.   There 
were  parties,  fancy-dress  balls,  lawn  tennis,  trips  to  the 

beach,  historic  sites  to  visit,  and  promenades  along  the 

waterfront  to  keep  the  winter  tourists  busy. 

May  and  the  other  girls  knew  of  the  exciting  happen- 
ings taking  place  just  beyond  the  school's  walls.   They 
heard  about  the  parties  and  the  social  life  and  about  the 
rich  and  famous  people  who  were  visiting  the  town.   For  the 
girls  there  were  occasional  chaperoned  visits  to  local 
stores  to  shop.   There  were  also  school  plays,  musicals, 


picnics,  and  games  to  keep  them  occupied.   Sometimes  there 
were  even  trips  to  the  beach.   According  to  one  school 
advertisement,  parents  were  advised  that  "there  is  a  fine 

bath  house  situated  on  the  Bay  near  the  Convent  (and)  the 

young  ladies  are  frequently  taken  to  bathe."     May  lxked 

St.  Augustine,  and  after  leaving  the  school  she  visited  the 
city  each  winter  for  over  thirty  years. 

The  scholastic  year  was  divided  into  two  terms  cover- 
ing the  months  of  September  through  January  and  February 
through  June.   There  were  written  examinations  at  the  end 
of  each  term.   The  curriculum  was  divided  into  primary, 
junior,  and  senior  courses  of  study.   May  was  an  excellent 
student.   Self -motivated,  articulate,  and  inquisitive,  she 
had  a  brilliant  mind.   She  was  one  of  the  best  pupils  ever 
to  attend  the  school  and  was  a  regular  member  of  the  honor 
roll.   She  became  proficient  in  music,  piano,  voice,  and  art, 
and  was  awarded  a  gold  medal  for  excellence  in  class  work 
in  her  junior  year.     She  received  gold  medals  in  her 

senior  year  for  achievements  in  music,  art,  piano,  voice 

English  composition,  and  French.     Her  course  requirement 

for  her  senior  program,  which  took  three  years  to  complete, 
included  catechism,  Church  history,  etymology,  geography, 
ancient  history,  Middle  Ages  history,  rhetoric,  grammar, 
science,  mental  and  practical  arithmetic,  algebra,  elocu- 
tion, modern  history,  logic,  chemistry,  botany,  geology, 

literature,  astronomy,  composition,  classics,  bookkeeping, 

1  c 

mental  philosophy,  and  civil  government. 

May  graduated  valedictorian  of  her  class  in  1889. 
Her  valedictory  address  was  entitled  "Beyond  the  Alps  Lies 
Italy."   It  was  an  amazing  little  Victorian  composition, 
poetic  in  style,  in  which  she  described,  through  metaphor, 
her  years  of  residence  and  study  at  St.  Joseph's  and  how  she 
felt  about  it  and  home  now  that  she  had  achieved  her  goal 
and  was  leaving.   She  had  climbed  the  mountains  and  overcome 

all  obstacles,  and  down  below  lay  the  fair  vista  of  a  lovely 

land  which  beckoned  her  onward. 

May  did  not  leave  the  convent  immediately  but  elected 

to  stay  an  extra  year  for  post-graduate  study.   By   the  time 

she  left  the  school  she  was  eighteen  and  an  articulate, 

well-educated  young  woman  who  was  ready  to  take  her  place 

in  the  outside  world.   Her  fellow  students  wrote  of  her: 

"our  esteemed  friend  and  schoolmate,  Miss  May  Mann  through 

her  amiable  disposition  is  much  regarded  and  will  ever  have 

the  fondest  love  of  her  teachers  and  companions.   Having 

entered  the  academy  when  a  mere  child  she  was  placed  under 

the  careful  guardianship  of  the  sisters.   At  the  expiration 

of  six  years  (she)  was  the  worthy  recipient  of  the  highest 

honors.   She  proved  herself  to  be  a  studious  girl,  a  res- 
pectful  pupil  and  a  faithful  friend. " 

During  their  years  in  St.  Augustine,  Austin  Mann 

visited  his  daughters  frequently.   Undoubtedly  he  approved 


of  the  educational  program  at  the  convent  for  he  publicly 
supported  the  school  by  advertising  in  its  monthly  publi- 
cations.19  During  school  holidays  and  summers  May  stayed 
with  her  father  at  "Crystal  Grove"  and  later  at  Brooksville, 
where  he  moved  in  1887.   During  those  times  she  often  accom- 
panied him  to  his  political  meetings  and  on  his  travels 
around  his  district.   She  received  much  valuable  political 
experience  during  those  visits  home. 

Austin  married  a  third  time.   In  January  of  1891  he 
married  Alsina  M.  Clark  of  Jacksonville.   She  was  much 
younger  than  he  and  outlived  him  by  many  years.   May  was 
distraught  that  her  father  married  a  woman  her  own  age  but 
she  soon  forgave  him  and  became  a  good  friend  of  her  young 
stepmother.   Mann's  political  career  had  continued  while 
his  daughters  were  at  St.  Joseph's.  From  1883  until  1887  he 
represented  Hernando  County  and  the  twenty-second  district 
in  the  state  senate.   As  a  member  of  the  liberal  wing  of 
the  Democratic  party,  he  differed  with  the  Bourbon  leader- 
ship over  the  issues  of  railroad  and  corporate  regulation, 
agricultural  policy,  and  Negro  rights. 

Mann  attended  the  1883,  1885,  and  1887  legislative 
sessions.   His  main  interest  was  agriculture  and    the  pro- 
motion and  development  of  the  state.   For  two  sessions  he 
chaired  the  committees  on  agriculture  and  immigration.   He 
tried  without  success  to  get  a  state  bureau  and  commission 
of  agriculture  established,  and  he  sought  to  promote  Florida 


by  urging  the  state's  participation  in  world  and  regional 
fairs.   Mann  also  served  on  committees  which  investigated 
the  Disston  land  sale,  Indian  War  claims,  and  the  Internal 
Improvement  Fund.   Well  known  throughout  Florida,  it  was 
rumored  that  he  would  become  the  Independent  party's  candi- 
date for  governor  in  1884,  but  he  spurned  that  movement  and 
supported  the  regular  Democratxc  candidates. 

In  the  18  85  session  Mann  somewhat  reluctantly  sup- 
ported Wilkinson  Call's  election  to  the  United  States 
Senate,  for  he  doubted  the  sincerity  of  Call's  liberalism. 
During  that  session  he  served  on  the  committee  which  organ- 
ized the  historic  state  constitution  convention  which 
convened  at  Tallahassee,  June  9,  1885.   He  played  a  promi- 
nent role  at  the  convention,  chairing  the  committee  on 

suffrage  and  eligibility,  around  which  swirled  several  of 

the  convention's  most  controversial  issues.     The  1885 

Constitution  decentralized  state  government  and  stripped 
the  governor  of  much  of  his  appointive  powers.   Mann  favored 
homerule  and  local  elections,  and  he  clashed  with  representa- 
tives from  "blackbelt"  counties  who  favored  a  strong  execu- 
tive and  who  wanted  to  disfranchise  Negroes  by  adopting 
the  poll  tax.   The  poll  tax  was  not  popular  in  the  counties 
in  which  whites  predominated.   Mann,  who  sided  with  farmers 

and  labor,  believed  that  the  "poll  tax  was  unfair  to  the 


hard-working  laboring  class."     He  was  responsible  for  the 

constitutional  articles  which  made  prohibition  a  matter  of 


local  option  and  which  authorized  construction  of  a  cross- 
Florida  ship  canal.  He  also  supported  creation  of  a  state 
commissioner  of  agriculture. 

In  the  18  37  legislature  Mann  attempted  to  take  over 
the  leadership  of  the  anti-railroad  Democrats  from  the  Call 
faction,  but  he  failed.   He  withdrew  his  public  endorsement 

of  Call  whom  he  considered  a  "windbag"  and  a  "fair  weather 

liberal."     His  feud  with  Call,  which  lasted  for  many  years, 

consumed  much  of  his  energy.   In  the  1837  session  he  also 

supported  a  bill  which  created  Pasco  and  Citrus  counties  out 

of  parts  of  Hernando  County,  although  passage  of  this  bill 

was  to  prove  harmful  to  his  career. 

A  special  election  was  called  to  choose  representa- 
tives for  the  new  counties.   The  election  in  Citrus  County, 
Mann's  old-new  district,  turned  into  a  donnybrook.   Mann, 
who  was  standing  for  reelection  and  who  was  already  a  con- 
troversial figure,  threw  his  support  behind  the  new  town 
of  Mannsfield,  for  county  seat.   He  was  one  of  its  developers 
and  had  already  succeeded  in  having  it  designated  as  the 
temporary  county  seat.   The  campaign  became  heated,  and  two 
factions  developed  labeled   Manns  and  anti-Manns. 

Mann  was  soundly  defeated.   One  anecdote  of  the  con- 
test was  told  years  later  by  May  and  others  and  perhaps 
gives  a  clue  to  why  he  lost.   It  seems  that,  "the  only 
charge  that  could  be  brought  against  [Mann]    was  that  he 
was  an  aristocrat.   He  denied  the  charge   and  said  he  loved 


Citrus  County  and  its  people,  and  was  a  cracker  just  like 
the  rest  of  them.   But  when  it  came  to  the  political 
speeches,  the  anti-Manns  were  loaded  for  bear.   They  charged 
that  the  senator  slept  in  a  nightshirt  and  was,  therefore, 
an  aristocrat.   They  called  his  hand  when  he  was  making  a 
speech  and  forced  him  to  admit  that  he  (had)  slept  in  a 
nightshirt  even  the  night  before.   So  what  more  did  the 
people  want?   The  candidate  himself  had  admitted  that  he 
slept  in  a  nightshirt,  and  anyone  who  slept  in  a  nightshirt 
was  an  aristocrat,  and  an  aristocrat  was  not  a  cracker, 
and  by  no  stretch  of  the  imagination  should  an  aristocrat 
be  a  senator  from  Citrus  County;  and  if  you  voted  for  him, 
someone  might  think  you  had  a  'tetch'  of  aristocracy  in 
your  own  system  and  might  tell  someone  else.   And  it  was 
just  possible  that  it  would  become  common  knowledge.   And 

that  would  be  a  disgrace  that  you  could  never  live  down. 

On  election  day  the  senator  was  snowed  under.' 

Mann's  town  fared   little  better.   When  an  election 

was  held  to  choose  the  county  seat  charges  of  stuffed  ballot 

boxes  resulted  in  an  inconclusive  outcome.   The  anti-Mann 

group  settled  the  issue  once  and  for  all.   They  moved  all 

the  courthouse  records,  furniture,  and  equipment  to  Inverness 

at  night,  catching  the  Mann  forces  off  guard.   Mannsfield 


soon  became  a  ghost  town.     Angered  and  humiliated  by  his 

defeat  and  suffering  from  financial  losses  sustained  during 
the  harsh  winter  of  1886,  Austin  Mann  left  Crystal  River. 


He  sold  "Crystal  Grove"  and  most  of  his  other  properties 

in  that  area  and  moved  to  Brooksville.   There  he  established 

a  new  grove,  bought  the  local  newspaper,  and  began  to  prac- 

2  fi 

tice  law.     He  continued  his  interest   in  politics. 

The  1880s  were  the  years  of  farm  discontent  through- 
out the  South  and  West.   In  1887  the  Farmer's  Alliance, 
which  had  begun  in  Texas,  began  to  organize  in  Florida.   By 
1889  it  was  estimated  that  there  were  20,000  Alliance  mem- 
bers in  the  state.   Mann  was  sympathetic  to  the  organiza- 
tion's aims,  some  of  which  he  had  been  espousing  for  years. 
He  soon  became  one  of  its  most  prominent  leaders.   News 

reporters  referred  to  him  as  the  Alliance's  "silver  tongued 

orator."     It  was  Mann  who  organized  the  historic  national 

convention  which  the  Alliance  held  at  Ocala  in  December  of 

1890.   Out  of  that  meeting  came  the  famous  populist  plat- 

2  8 

form  known  as  the  "Ocala  Demands."     It  called  for  the 

abolition  of  all  national  banks,  establishment  of  a  sub- 
treasury  plan  which  would  provide  farmers  low-cost  loans, 
regulation  of  railroads  and  trusts,  direct  popular  election 
of  United  States  Senators,  coinage  of  unlimited  amounts  of 
silver,  reform  of  the  tariff  system,  and  passage  of  a  nation- 
al graduated  income  tax.   All  were  radical  ideas  for  those 

In  the  fall  of  1890  the  Alliance  entered  candidates 
in  all  of  Florida's  political  races.   Mann  ran  for  the 
House,  and  it  turned  out  to  be  one  of  his  toughest   races. 


According  to  one  historian  it  was  a  heated  contest.  Mann 
"had  made  a  number  of  enemies  in  [Brooksville]  because  of 
the  positions  he  took  on  the  political  issues  of  the 

day.  ...  It  was  a  bitter  campaign  with  lots  of  mud  sling- 

ing  on  both  sides."     Despite  an  anti-Mann  torchlight 

parade  on  election  eve  Austin  won  the  election. 

Over  two-thirds  of  the  1891  legislators  were 
Alliancemen  and  Mann  was  their  leader.   The  legislative 
session  was  one  of  the  stormiest  on  record.   Wilkinson 
Call,  Austin's  old  enemy,  was  up  for  reelection  to  the 
Senate.   He  was  opposed  by  the  railroad  tycoon  William  D. 
Chipley  and  by  Alliancemen,  led  by  Mann.   The  two  groups 
were  uncomfortable  "bedf ellows" ;  only  their  opposition  to 
Call  united  them.   The  pro-  and  con-Call  forces  actively 
debated  his  reelection.   Mann's  harsh  laugh  was  often 
heard  by  the  news  reporters  as  it  echoed  above  the  din  in 
the  House.   One  of  Mann's  speeches  v/as  described  as  "a 
series  of  explosions."     The  pro-Alliance  Daily  Floridian 
called  him  "the  Hero  of  Hernando."   After  weeks  of  incon- 
clusive wrangling  and  deadlocked  votes  Call ' s  reelection 
was  finally  decided  by  an  episode  known  as  "Eabes-in-the- 
Woods."   Seeking  to  prevent  a  quorum,  Mann  persuaded  more 
than  a  dozen  legislators  to  go  on  a  "picnic"  the  day  a 
crucial  vote  was  to  be  taken.   They  journeyed  to  Thomasville, 
Georgia,  where  they  whiled  away  the  time  eating  lunch  and 
drinking  cider.   The  ploy  failed.   The  pro-Call  men, 


undaunted  by  the  maneuver,  called  a  joint  session  and  de- 
clared a  quorum  of  both  houses  and  reelected  their  candi- 
date.  It  was  a  bitter  defeat  for  Mann  and  his  Alliance 

Disillusioned  with  his  fellow  Democrats  and  disap- 
pointed that  the  party  did  not  adopt  the  Alliance's  plat- 
form at  its  1892  state  convention,  Mann  broke  with  the 
Democratic  party.   He  joined  the  newly  formed  People's 
Party,  or  Populist  Party,  as  it  was  more  commonly  called, 
and  became  its  candidate  for  Congress.   Mann  and  the  Popu- 
lists were  branded  as  traitors  by  the  Democrats.   They  were 
also  opposed  by  almost  every  major  newspaper  in  the  state. 
The  Jasper  News  derisively  denounced  Mann  as  "the  chief 
hornblower  [of  a]  scalaway  circus."     He  and  the  other 
Populists  were  soundly  defeated  in  the  election.   The 
agrarian  movement  was  over,  and  so  was  Austin  Mann's  politi- 
cal career.   Earlier,  when  the  Alliance's  co-op  programs 

had  gone  under,  Mann  had  remarked  that  "we  busted  because 


we  failed."     The  statement,  while  simplistic,  applied  just 

as  aptly  to  his  defeat  in  18  92.   He  never  again  ran  for 
public  office  although  he  continued  to  voice  his  unpopular 
and  controversial  views.   He  turned  his  interests  elsewhere 
and  began  to  work  to  improve  Florida's  road  system  and  to 
develop  the  state's  natural  resources. 

May  observed  firsthand  the  last  stormy  years  of  her 
father's  political  career.   In  1890  she  left  St.  Joseph's  and 

joined  him  in  Brooksville.   She  helped  him  with  his  politi- 
cal campaign  and  with  the  arrangements  of  the  Ocala  convention. 
Late  in  1890  her  father  introduced  her  to  William  Sherman 
Jennings,  a  judge  from  Brooksville  who  was  an  ambitious 
young  man  beginning  to  make  a  name  for  himself  in  Democratic 
party  circles.   Jennings  was  smitten  with  May,  who  had 
grown  into  a  very  attractive  woman.   Vivacious  and  charming, 
she  was  also  Jennings'  intellectual  equal  and  she  enjoyed 
politics  as  much  as  he  did.   They  began  to  see  each  other 
often  at  political  rallies,  church  socials,  and  cotillion 
dances.   Soon  he  was  calling  at  the  Mann  house  to  court  her 

During  part  of  the  1891  legislative  session  May 

assisted  her  father.   They  lived  at  the  St.  James  hotel 


while  in  Tallahassee.     She  attended  House  sessions  and 

handled  Mann's  correspondence  and  appointments.   She  also 
acted  as  his  hostess.   Government  buildings  were  considered 
male  sanctuaries  in  those  days,  and  May  must  have  created 
something  of  a  stir  as  she  moved  through  the  Capitol  corri- 
dors and  offices.   She  was  small,  slim,  fashionably  dressed, 
and  she  wore  her  hair  in  the  flattering  Gibson  Girl  style. 
She  enjoyed  politics,  and  her  capabilities,  enthusiasm,  and 
ease  in  handling  politicians  and  adjusting  to  their  way  of 
life  were  quickly  noticed  by  her  associates.   She  soon  made 
friends  with  legislators,  their  wives,  and  other  state 
officials . 


Jennings  frequently  visited  Tallahassee  on  business. 
He  made  it  his  business  to  see  May  as  often  as  possible. 
There  were  many  places  to  go.   Tallahassee,  with  a  popula- 
tion of  2,000,  was  an  exciting  community,  particularly  when 
the  legislature  was  in  session.   There  were  parties,  dinners 
and  dances.   Picnics  at  Hall  Lake  and  concerts  by  the  Talla- 
hassee Silver  Cornet  Band  provided  entertainment.   Quieter 
activities  were  also  available.   One  local  newspaper  noted 
that,  "the  young  folks  of  Tallahassee  enjoy  (the)  lovely 
moonlight  nights.   Long  (buggy)  drives  over  the  hard  clay 
roads  (on)  cool,  clear,  nights  arouse  all  the  poetry  in 
one  s  bexng." 

Sherman  and  May  were  married  in  Tallahassee  on  May 
12,  1891.   She  was  eighteen  and  he  was  twenty-nine.   Talla- 
hassee had  never  seen  such  an  elegant  wedding.   The  ceremony 
took  place  in  the  Methodist  church  (the  Baptist  church  had 
recently  burned  down) ,  with  Mann  giving  his  daughter  away 

and  the  members  of  the  Legislature  standing  in  a  body  to 

escort  the  newlyweds  down  the  aisle.     The  local  newspaper 

noted  that  the  young  couple  departed  the  following  day  for 

3  fi 
St.  Augustine,  where  they  spent  their  honeymoon.     May's 

former  schoolmates  at  St.  Joseph  commented  on  the  marriage. 

They  wrote  with  enthusiasm:  "We  extend  our  sincerest  wishes 

to  the  newlyweds,  and  hope  that  as  they  glide  over  a  silvery 

ocean  of  time,  the  tide  of  a  just  life  may  bear  them  to  a 


heavenly  felicity. " 


May  and  Sherman  were  well  suited  to  each  other. 
Their  partnership  had  been  made,  figuratively  and  literally, 
in  the  halls  of  government.   Similar  in  background,  educa- 
tion, and  aspirations,  their  union  proved  to  be  very  happy. 
They  were  to  work  side-by-side  for  the  next  thirty  years, 
and  it  was  fortunate  for  Florida  that  this  happened.   The 
young  couple  had  set  their  goals.   The  future  beckoned  and 
before  them  lay  fair  Italy. 

Notes  to  Chapter  II 

St.  Joseph  Academy  Roll,  1883,  located  in  St. 
Joseph  archives.   The  Mann  girls'  ages  were  erroneously- 
listed  as  twelve  and  eight. 

2  .  . 

Living  Waters  (St.  Augustine,  1966),  n.p. 

Sister  Thomas  Joseph  McGoldrick,  "The  Contribution 

of  the  Sisters  of  St.  Joseph  of  St.  Augustine  to  Education, 

1866-1960"  (M.A.  thesis,  University  of  Florida,  1960) , 


4  . 

Sister  Mary  Alberta,  "A  Study  of  the  Schools  Con- 
ducted by  the  Sisters  of  St.  Joseph  of  the  Diocese  of 
St.  Augustine,  Florida,  1866-1940"  (M.A.  thesis,  University 
of  Florida,  1940) ,  passim. 

5  , 

Tne  author  was  given  a  personal  tour  of  the  school 

by  Sister  Mary  Albert  Luzzier,  February  19,  197  8. 

May  Jennings  to  Carrie  McCollum,  April  30,  1915. 

MMJ  Papers,  Box  5. 

Jane  Qumn,  The  Story  of  a  Nun:  Jeanie  Gordon 

Brown  (St.  Augustine,  1978),  p.  68. 


Prospectus  of  St.  Joseph's  Academy  (St.  Augustine, 
1890)  ,  nTp": 


Quinn,  Story  of  a  Nun,  p.  85. 

Florida  Latimer,  "Convent  Life,"  Pascua  Florida, 
XIV,     February,  1903.   Quoted  in  Quinn, ~~Story  of  a  Nun, 
p.  86-87.  * 


Edward  Nelson  Akin,  "Southern  Reflections  of  the 

Gilded  Age:  Henry  M.  Flagler's  System,  1885-1913"  (Ph.D. 

dissertation,  University  of  Florida,  1975) ,  passim. 


The  St.  Augustine  Directory  (St.  Augustine,  1884) , 



Pascua  Florida,  II,  May  1889,  p.  9. 


Biographical  sketch  of  May  Mann  Jennings,  1919. 

MMJ  Papers,  Box  16. 


Prospectus  of  St.  Joseph's  Academy ,  1890,  n.p. 


Valedictory  address.   See  Appendxx  I. 


Pascua  Florida,  II,  June,  1891,  p.  10. 


Ibid.   Flyleaf.   One  such  advertisement  read  "the 

Florida  Orange  and  Vegetable  Auction  Company  of  Jacksonville, 

Florida.   Over  one-hundred  dealers  represented,  A.S.  Mann, 

President  and  Manager." 


Edward  C.  Williamson,  "Independentism:  A  Challenge 

to  the  Florida  Democracy  of  1884,"  Florida  Historical 
Quarterly,  XXVII,  July,  1948,  p.  147. 


Edward  C.  Williamson,  "The  Constitutional  Conven- 
tion of  1885,"  Florida  Historical  Quarterly,  XLI ,  October 
1962,  p.  116. 


Edward  C.  Williamson,  Florida  Politics  in  the  Gilded 

Age:  1877-1893  (Gainesville,  1976),  p.  137. 

23Ibid. ,  p.  183. 


Judge  E.C.  May,  Gaters,  Skeeters,  and  Malary: 

Recollections  of  a  Pioneer  Florida  Judge  (New  York,  1953), 

p.  58. 


Ibid. ,  p.  57 . 

The  newspaper  was  the  Brooksville  Register ,  whose 
editor  was  Cash  Thomas.   According  to  Stanaback's  A  History 
of  Hernando  County  the  paper  was  well  written  and  won  prizes 
at  state  fairs.   See  Stanaback,  p.  171. 


Lloyd  Walter  Cory,  "The  Florida  Farmer's  Alliance: 

1887-1892"  (M.A.  thesis,  Florida  State  University,  1963), 
p.  41. 


James  O.  Knauss,  "The  Farmer's  Alliance  in  Florida," 

The  South  Atlantic  Quarterly,  XXV,  July,  1926,  pp.  300-315. 


Stanaback,  History  of  Hernando  County,  p.  129. 

Tallahassee  Daily  Floridian,  April  12,  1891. 


Jasper  News ,  August   12,  1892. 


Arnold  M.  Pavlovsky,  "We  Busted  Because  We  Failed: 

Florida  Politics,  1880-1908"  (Ph.D.  dissertation,  Princeton 
University,  1973) ,  p.  151. 


:Ibid. ,  May  27,  1891 

Tallahassee  Weekly  Floridian,  April  8,  1891. 


Biographical  sketch  of  May  Mann  Jennings,  1919. 

MMJ  Papers,  Box  16. 

Tallahassee  Daily  Floridian,  May  14,  1891. 


Pascua  Florida,  II,  June,  1891,  p.  10. 


William  Sherman  Jennings  was  destined  for  a  distin- 
guished career  and  would  eventually  be  elected  governor  of 
Florida.   His  ascent  within  the  Democratic  party  was  one  of 
the  most  meteoric  in  the  state's  history.   Born  March  24, 
1863,  at  Walnut  Hill,  Marion  County,  Illinois,  he  was  one 
of  nine  children.    His  parents,  longtime  residents  of  the 
area,  were  Josephus  Waters  Jennings  and  Amanda  Couch  Jen- 
nings.  Both  were  descended  from  colonial  ancestors. 
Josephus  Jennings  was  an  attorney  and  for  many  years  judge 
of  the  Marion  County  court. 

Jennings  attended  local  schools  and  in  1882  and  1883 
he  attended  Southern  Illinois  Normal  University  at  Carbon- 
dale.   While  there  he  served  as  a  first  sergeant  in  the 


Douglas  Corps  of  Cadets.    Afterwards  he  went  to  Salem, 

Illinois,  where  he  read  law  with  his  brother,  Charles,  and 
with  his  uncle,  Silas  Bryan,  father  of  William  Jennings 
Bryan,  the  "Great  Commoner , "  and  the  man  many  historians 
recognize  as  the  founder  of  the  modern  Democratic  party. 
Bryan's  father  and  Jennings'  mother  were  brother  and  sister, 
Sherman,  who  was  three  years  younger  than  Bryan,  did  not 
look  much  like  his  famous  cousin,  nor  did  he  have  his  ora- 
torical skills.   Still,  family  members  remarked  how  alike 



the  two  were  in  physical  build  and  in  personal  philosophy, 
political  ideology,  and  religious  beliefs.   Bryan's  wife, 

Mary,  later  wrote  May,  "our  husbands  are  so  alike  in  body 

and  in  mind."    This  similarity  would  not  be  unexpected  in 

men  who  shared  a  common  ancestry  and  childhood.   Throughout 

their  lives  the  two  cousins  were  close  friends.   There  is 

little  doubt  that  the  relationship  was  an  asset  to  Sherman's 

career,  for  on  several  occasions  Bryan  arrived  in  Florida 

to  give  Sherman's  political  career  a  boost.   Three  different 

times  in  the  189  0s  Bryan  spoke  in  Brooksville,  once  from  the 

balcony  of  the  Jennings  home. 

In  1885  Sherman  attended  Union  Law  School,  where  his 

brother  and  Bryan  had  received  their  legal  training.   This 

institution  was  one  of  the  most  distinguished  in  Illinois, 

but  its  facilities  were  unimpressive.   Located  in  downtown 

Chicago,  it  was  housed  "in  a  single  building  and  consisted 

of  a  solitary  lecture  room,  an  office  shared  by  the  dean 

and  his  faculty  .  .  .  (and)  a  roof  garden  (which)  had  been 

transformed  into  a  library." 

After  Jennings  left  the  school  he  decided  to  move 

south.   It  is  not  known  why  he  came  to  Florida  or  how  he 

chose  Brooksville  as  his  new  home,  but  he  arrived  in  the 

little  town  in  late  1885.   He  was  twenty-two  years  of  age. 

Pictures  of  him  about  this  time  show  him  to  be  a  man  of  medium 

height  and  of  stocky  build.   He  had  brown  hair  and  eyes  and 

he  wore  a  prominent  mustache.   He  dressed  well  and  presented 


a  dignified  appearance.   He  was  reserved  in  his  personal 

One  amusing  fact  about  his  trip  to  Florida  was  later 
used  against  him  in  the  heat  of  a  campaign.   He  paid  for 
his  trip  south  working  as  a  drummer,  or  salesman,  for  a 
patent  medicine  company.   He  was  later  accused  of  having 
arrived  in  the  state  on  a  medicine  wagon  "hawking  snake 
oil."   Jennings  never  denied  the  accusation  and  turned  the 
information  to  his  advantage.   He  stated  that  he  was  proud 
to  have  been  a  workingman  who  came  from  modest  circumstances. 
Wasn't  it  the  American  way  that  a  chap  who  was  ambitious  and 
hardworking  could  rise  in  station  and  become  a  leader  of 
his  fellowmen? 

Jennings'  intelligence  and  industriousness  enabled 
him  to  succeed  quicker  than  most  men  his  age.   In  May  of 
1886,  just  a  few  months  after  his  arrival  in  Brooksville,  he 
was  admitted  to  the  Florida  bar.   Eventually  he  was  prac- 
ticing before  the  state  Supreme  Court.    In  18  87  he  was 
appointed  court  commissioner  of  the  Sixth  Judicial  Circuit, 
and  the  following  year  was  appointed  county  judge  of  Hernando 
County.   A  few  months  later  he  was  elected  to  the  same 
office  for  a  full  four-year  term.   As  his  involvement  in 
local  politics  increased  so  did  his  influence  and  prestige 
within  the  Democratic  party. 

Jennings  took  an  active  part  in  Brooksville ' s  and 
Hernando  County's  civic  affairs.   For  several  years  he 


served  as  a  county  commissioner  and  for  a  decade  he  was  a 

city  councilman.   Eight  of  those  years  he  was  president  of 

the  council.    He  also  served  as  president  of  the  Brooks- 

ville  High  School  board  of  trustees,  and  held  a  commission 

as  colonel  in  the  Fifth  Florida  Regiment.   One  student 

remembered  that  the  future  governor  frequently  drove  out  to 

the  high  school  in  his  buggy  to  drill  the  school  boys  in 


military  tactics.    On  March  5,  1890,  he  married  Corinne 
Jordan,  the  daughter  of  a  Brooksville  merchant,  but  she 
died  only  a  few  months  after  the  ceremony. 

When  Jennings  married  May  he  found  the  ideal  compan- 
ion.  Not  only  was  she  his  intellectual  equal  but  they 
shared  common  goals  and  aspirations.   Both  held  a  strong 
sense  of  noblesse  oblige;  community  service  was  seen  as  a 
duty.   High  public  and  private  standards  were  considered  to 
be  obligatory  by  those  who  considered  themselves  to  be  good 

After  their  honeymoon,  May  and  Sherman  returned  to 
Brooksville.   In  1891  it  was  an  attractive,  bustling  com- 
munity of  about  500  inhabitants.   It  had  twenty  stores,  a 
newspaper,  printing  office,  courthouse,  Florida  Southern 
Railway  depot,  and  not  a  single  paved  street  or  sidewalk. 
There  were  many  trees  and  in  spring  and  summer  the  woods 
were  filled  with  wild  flowers.   Agricultural  enterprises 
formed  the  largest  industry.   Before  the  great  freezes  of 
1894-1895  large  orange,  lemon,  and  grapefruit  groves  dotted 


the  hillsides.   From  Booksville  alone  "100,000  boxes  (of 
citrus)  were  shipped  annually."     Phosphate  mines  and 
timber  added  to  the  economy. 

Brooksville  was  situated  upon  some  of  the  most 
beautiful  land  in  Florida.   There  were  gently  rolling  hills 
which  provided  far  distant  vistas.   The  soil  was  rich  and 
dark  brown  in  color.   Numerous  hammocks  harbored  magnifi- 
cent stands  of  hardwood  trees.   One  visitor  described  the 
area  as  "the  most  un-Florida  appearing  place  imaginable." 
Brooksville  especially  appealed  to  Midwesterners  for  it 
reminded  them  in  many  ways  of  home,  although  one  traveler 
said  it  resembled  "western  New  York"  state.     A  land  sales 
booklet,  published  in  Chicago,  stated  that  land  near 
Brooksville  was  "as  good  as  Illinois  soil."     it  also 
claimed  that  the  area  had  "no  snakes,"  a  fact  apparently 
comforting  to  citified  Northerners. 

May  and  Sherman  built  a  large  house  in  Brooksville 
and  it  became  a  center  of  social  activity  for  the  young 
married  set  of  the  community.   A  few  months  after  their 
marriage  an  item  in  the  local  paper  announced  that  "the 
frame  of  Judge  Jennings'  new  residence  looms  upon  Howell's 
Hill.   It  will  be  the  handsomest  residence  in  town."     The 
house  was  a  large,  white,  two-story  wood  structure  which  had 
porches,  lead  glass  doors,  and  balconies.   One  contemporary 
commented  upon  its  attractiveness  and  spacious  grounds.   It 
was  noted  by  the  same  observer  that,  "Mrs.  Jennings,  as  well 


as  her  husband,  takes  great  pride  in  keeping  (the)  home  in 

the  most  excellent  and  inviting  condition.   She  carefully 

superintends  in  person  every  detail  of  home  management." 

May  enjoyed  the  outdoors  and  worked  energetically  in  her 

yard.   Her  home  was  surrounded  by  flowers  and  trees  and 

vegetable  gardens.   She  also  had  chickens  and  a  cow  to  care 

for.   An  observer  described  her  domestic  proclivities  as 

follows:  "While  (Mrs.  Jennings')  many  graces  of  mind  and 

person  eminently  qualify  her  to  preside  over  the  social 

functions  incident  to  her  exalted  position,  she  is  at  the 

same  time  more  domestic  than  many  a  farmer's  wife,  and  loves 

her  poultry,  her  garden  and  her  flowers." 

May  spent  much  of  her  time  making  dress  patterns 

and  often  employed  a  seamstress;  she  was  fashion  conscious 

and  liked  to  wear  the  latest  styles.   Though  small  of  stature, 

she  was  always  dignified  in  her  appearance;  contemporaries 

remembered  that  she  stood  ramrod  straight  and  carried  her 

head  high.   Her  bearing  was  perhaps  the  result  of  her 

training  in  "refined  deportment"  which  she  had  received  at 

St.  Joseph's  Academy.   She  never  appeared  in  public  without 

wearing  gloves  and  a  hat,  even  years  later,  after  styles  had 

been  modified  and  were  less  formal.   Her  hats,  usually 

large  and  decorated  with  bright  bows  and  flowers,  became 

her  trademark.   She  was  not  an  imperious  woman,  and  her 

manner  was  never  arrogant.   Although  self-confident  and 

not  afraid  to  speak  her  own  mind,  she  was  not  over-bearing. 


She  was  well  liked  and  had  many  friends.   Later,  there  were 
many  followers  and  emulaters. 

May  and  Sherman  were  Brooksville ' s  most  active  couple. 
For  ten  years  they  busied  themselves  with  the  political, 
civic,  business,  and  social  activities  of  the  community. 
In  November  of  1893,  their  only  child,  Sherman  Bryan  Jennings, 
was  born.   He  received  the  devoted  love  and  attention  of  his 
parents.   As  he  grew  up  he  was  taken  into  their  confidences 
and  was  excluded  from  few  of  their  activities.   As  her 
father  had  treated  her,  so  did  May  relate  to  her  own  son. 
Next  to  her  husband,  her  son  was  to  become  one  of  her  closest 

allies  and  friends.   It  was  noted  that  the  Jennings  treated 

Bryan  "like  a  dear  chum"  rather  than  a  son. 

The  Jennings  were  active  members  in  Brooksville ' s 

First  Baptist  Church.   Since  Sherman  had  moved  to  Florida  he 

had  publicly  identified  himself  as  a  Baptist.   In  1889  he 

attended  the  eighth  annual  convention  of  the  Florida  Sunday 


School  Association  and  pledged  $25.00  to  its  support.     For 

many  years  he  held  church  offices,  including  the  vice- 
presidency  of  the  Florida  Baptist  Convention  and  membership 

on  the  Baptist  State  Board  of  Missions.   He  also  served  as 

a  trustee  of  Stetson  University.     In  the  Brooksville  church 

he  was  a  deacon  and  a  Sunday  school  teacher.   When  the  church 

burned  in  1899,  Sherman  and  May  led  the  drive  to  raise 


building  funds.     Because  of  their  Baptist  beliefs  neither 

ever  smoked  tobacco  nor  drank  alcohol.   Both  were  sympathetic 
to  the  temperance  movement. 


Jennings  was  elected  to  the  state  legislature  in 
1892  and  again  in  1894.   In  the  1893  House  of  Representa- 
tives he  served  on  the  finance  and  taxation,  judiciary,  and 
constitutional  amendments  committees.   He  was  chairman  of 
public  health  and  rules.   He  was  well  liked  by  his  colleagues 
and  was  viewed  as  one  of  the  ablest  young  men  in  the  state. 
During  the  1895  legislative  session  he  served  as  speaker  of 
the  House.   It  was  a  responsible  and  powerful  position  and 
he  garnered  many  friends  and  admirers  at  that  time.   The 
following  year,  Jennings  was  elected  a  presidential  elector 
on  the  Bryan-Sewall  ticket.   By  18  98,  when  he  served  as 
chairman  of  the  Democratic  state  convention  at  Ocala,  his 
name  had  become  recognized  throughout  the  state. 

During  the  1890s  Jennings  built  up  a  busy  and  lucra- 
tive law  practice.   His  professional  card  read  "W.S.  Jennings, 

Atty.  at  Law,  Solicitor  in  Chancery.   Office  in  the  Bank 

Building."     His  business  interests  included  ownership 

and  management  of  several  citrus  groves,  including  a  sizable 

operation  near  Leesburg;  organization  and  management  of  the 

Brooksville  Orange  Company;  and  vice-presidency  of  the 

Brooksville  State  Bank.   He  also  added  to  his  own  real 

estate  holdings.   By  1900  Jennings  could  be  regarded  as  a 

man  of  substantial  wealth. 

While  her  husband's  political  and  fiscal  fortunes 

were  on  the  ascendancy,  May  was  also  making  a  name  for 

herself.   She  became  one  of  Brooksville ' s  most  active 


clubwomen.   Although  she  worked  to  enhance  her  husband's 
career,  she  always  reserved  time  to  pursue  her  own  interests, 
mainly  club  and  community  work.   Her  involvement  in  these 
activities  increased  over  the  years.   Eventually  she  would 
become  a  recognized  state  leader.   It  is  likely  that  she 
helped  organize  Brooksville ' s  first  woman's  club,  the  Whit- 
tier  Club  (later  the  Ladies'  Improvement  Association),  for 
she  was  its  recognized  leader.   Intelligent  and  articulate, 
she  was  too  interested  in  political  and  civic  matters  to 
remain  uninvolved.   Notices  similar  to  the  following  began 

to  appear  with  regularity,  "The  Ladies'  Improvement  Associa- 

tion  will  meet  at  Mrs.  W.S.  Jennings',  Thursday  the  31st." 

The  women  involved  themselves  in  numerous  charitable 

and  civic  activities.   One  irritating  public  problem  which 

concerned  the  Brooksville  women  was  the  nuisance  created  by 

the  town's  lack  of  a  fence  law.   Livestock  roamed  everywhere; 

animals  slept  in  the  streets,  doorways,  and  on  private 

lawns.   It  was  a  familiar  Florida  problem,  common  to  all  towns 

and  was  to  plague  the  state  for  many  years.   In  Brooksville 

it  was  such  an  annoyance  that  on  several  occasions  city 

emergency  action  was  taken  and  men  were  employed  to  "chase 

down  and  capture  the  animals."     The  ladies  kept  pressuring 

city  officials  (in  many  cases  their  own  husbands)  to  do  some- 
thing about  the  matter  which  was  becoming  also  a  health 
menance.   Meetings  were  held  and  letters  to  the  editor 
appeared  frequently.   One  writer  asked,  "Can  you  tell  me 


why  we  have  to  run  the  risk  of  breaking  our  necks  over  a 

lot  of  sleeping  cows  everytime  we  go  out? 

The  problem  created  by  free-roaming  livestock  was  of 

such  magnitude  and  so  pervasive  that  when  the  clubwomen  in 

the  state  formally  organized  the  Florida  Federation  of 

Women's  Clubs  in  1895,  it  was  the  first  major  issue  they 

addressed.     It  also  proved  to  be  one  of  the  most  contro- 
versial and  one  of  the  longest.   For  more  than  fifty  years 
women  fought  to  remedy  this  situation,  and  May  Jennings  was 
one  of  the  leaders  in  this  battle. 

In  18  99  she  turned  her  attention  away  from  clubwork 
to  help  her  husband  achieve  his  goal  of  being  elected 
governor  of  Florida.   She  had  attended  the  previous  three 
Democratic  state  conventions  as  well  as  the  1893  and  1895 
legislative  sessions.   She  had  worked  for  her  husband  as 
she  had  earlier  supported  her  father;  now  she  realized  she 
would  have  the  opportunity  to  put  her  political  knowledge 
and  organizational  skills  to  work  for  a  cause  personally 
dear  to  her.   She  would  work  hard  but  very  much  enjoy  the 
months  that  lay  ahead. 

That  she  was  one  of  Jennings'  great  political  assets 
was  recognized  by  many.   One  newpaper  wrote,  "There  is  little 
doubt  that  the  rise  of  young  Jennings  was  promoted  by  his 
marriage  to  May  Mann,  a  lady  of  great  charm  (who)  inherited 
much  of  her  father's  political  ability.   She  was  just  such 
a  person  who  would  impress  all  those  who  came  in  contact 


with  her,  just  such  a  one  as  would  prove  a  most  fitting 
helpmeet  (sic)  to  a  husband  who  had  both  ability  and  polit- 
ical  ambitions." 

Another  contemporary  noted  that  May  had  acquired 
"from  her  gifted  and  confiding  father  a  keen  interest  in 
public  affairs  (and  was)  from  girlhood  equipped  for  the 
brilliant  social  career  which  is  offered  to  the  wife  of  an 
ambitious,  able  and  influential  public  man.  .  .  .   Jennings 
owes  much  of  his  subsequent  success  at  the  bar  and  in  the 
field  of  politics  to  the  keen  intelligence  and  winning  tact 
of  his  wife  (who)  takes  a  very  intelligent  interest  in 
political  affairs.   The  advancement  of  her  husband  ...  is 
very  near  and  dear  to  her  heart.   Her  modest  and  unassuming 
manner  stops  her  from  claiming  any  credit  .  .  .  but  it  is 

certain  that  he  owes  much  to  her  excellent  judgment  and 

.  .  .  27 

untiring  efforts  in  his  behalf." 

From  the  time  Jennings  joined  the  Democratic  party 
he  had  been  identified  with  its  liberal,  anti-Bourbon  wing. 
He  was  never  regarded  as  a  radical  "wool  hatter"  as  his 
controversial  father-in-law  had  been;  he  was  seen  by  many 
as  a  middle-of-the-road  moderate.   Nevertheless,  he  was  a 
progressive  as  it  was  defined  in  early  twentieth-century 
American  political  history.   Other  liberals  of  his  genera- 
tion included  Congressman  Stephen  Mai lory,  Frank  Pope, 
Duncan  Fletcher,  United  States  Senator  Wilkinson  Call,  B.H. 


Palmer,  and  the  Jacksonville  "straightouts,"  John  N.C. 
Stockton,  J.M.  Barrs,  and  Napoleon  Bonaparte  Broward. 

The  liberals  opposed  the  party  conservatives  and  the 
so-called  "silk  hat"  railroad  and  corporate  kingpins  who, 
since  the  end  of  Reconstruction,  had  orchestrated  and  bene- 
fited from  Florida's  version  of  "the  great  American 
barbecue,"  in  which  the  resources  and  rewards  of  the  state 

were  controlled  by  a  small  business  elite,  known  as  the 

2  8 
Bourbons.  '   This  conservative  faction  included  William  D. 

Chipley,  James  Taliaferro,  Ziba  King,  William  D.  Bloxham, 

Henry  B.  Plant,  F.A.  Hendry,  and  Henry  M.  Flagler.   The 

two  sides  clashed  over  state  land  grant  policy,  railroad 

regulation,  state  funding  and  taxation,  political  patronage, 

and  nomination  and  election  reforms. 

For  more  than  twenty  years  the  two  sides  were  to 

fight  for  control  of  the  state.   The  tumultuous  9  0s  had 

witnessed  the  rise  and  demise  of  the  Populists  and  the 

bitter  battles  over  Senator  Call's  elections.   It  also  saw 

skirmishes  over  railroad  regulation  and  election  reforms. 

These  confrontations  had  finally  resulted  in  such  diffusion 

and  dilution  of  power  within  the  Florida  Democratic  party 

that,  as  one  historian  noted,  "no  single  interest  (could) 

29  3  0 

control  Florida  politics."     It  was  everyman  for  himself. 

The  party  developed  into  a  formless  union  of  "warring, 
amorphous  personal  factions."     In  1900  the  party's  nomina- 
tions seemed  wide  open.   It  would  be  the  last  time  that  the 


nominating  convention  would  be  utilized  to  select  nominees 
for  state  office.   Henceforth,  nominations  would  result 
from  the  primary  system.   In  1900  the  Democratic  nomination 
would  go  to  the  man  who  could  corral  the  most  delegates 
prior  to  the  party  convention.   In  a  one-party  state  like 
Florida,  nomination  was  tantamount  to  election.   The  time 
seemed  right  for  an  ambitious  and  relatively  fresh  newcomer. 
Sherman  Jennings  decided  to  enter  the  race. 

The  effort  would  not  be  easy.   There  was  no  pervasive 
state  political  machine,  as  there  were  in  other  southern 
states,  but  Jennings  felt  that  he  had  as  good  as  chance  as 
any  other  political  hopeful.   He  had  quietly  sent  out  in- 
quiries to  friends  around  the  state  asking  for  an  assessment 
of  his  chances.   The  replies  were  encouraging.   In  the  spring 
of  1899  he  and  May  journeyed  to  Tallahassee  and  while  there 
they  dined  with  Governor  and  Mrs.  Bloxham.   Whether  they 
revealed  Sherman's  intentions  is  not  known,  but   when  they 
returned  to  Brooksville  they  began  to  prepare  for  the  pre- 
convention  campaign.   Aware  that  he  was  at  a  disadvantage 
because  he  was  a  Northerner  by  birth  and  had  not  served  in 
the  Civil  War,  Jennings  was  determined  to  lessen  these 
handicaps.   In  June  he  purchased  a  copy  of  George  R.  Fair- 
bank's  newly-published  History  of  Florida,  and  began  to 

learn  as  much  as  he  could  about  the  history  of  his  adopted 


state.     He  did  not  intend  to  be  unprepared  or  appear 

ignorant  about  the  state  he  sought  to  govern.   He  subscribed 


to  the  Jacksonville  Florida  Times-Union,  the  states '  most 
influential  newspaper.   He  composed  a  biographical  sketch 
of  himself,  sat  for  a  formal  photograph,  and  gave  an  inter- 
view to  a  reporter  representing  the  Atlanta  Constitution. 


He  also  purchased  a  new  surrey  and  a  pair  of  sleek  horses. 

In  the  beginning  May  acted  as  campaign  manager;  she 
helped  devise  strategy  and  organized  the  letter  and  mailing 
operations.   Sherman  later  appointed  George  C.  Martin,  a 
Brooksville  attorney  and  a  prominent  party  official,  as 
his  manager.   A  circular  letter  was  sent  to  every  county 
asking  for  precinct  information  and  the  names  of  local  dele- 
gates.  According  to  one  writer  Jennings  was  the  last 

Florida  "gubernatorial  hopeful  to  sit  on  his  front  porch 

and  conduct  his  pre-convention  canvass  by  mail."     Despite 

the  restrained  tone  of  this  campaign,  as  compared  with  later 
ones  in  Florida  history,  Jennings  did  some  personal  politick- 
ing, but  he  combined  it  with  legitimate  business  travels. 
Late  in  1899  he  was  appointed  to  the  Democratic  state  execu- 
tive committee.   This  was  a  boon  to  his  candidacy  for  it 
gave  him  greater  exposure  and  allowed  him  to  keep  tabs  on 
the  other  gubernatorial  hopefuls. 

Jennings  was  supported  by  delegates  throughout  Flori- 
da, but  most  of  his  strength  came  from  the  central  and  south- 
west portions  of  the  state.   His  supporters  represented  all 
segments  of  the  population.   His  earliest  backers  included 
men  like  Asa  Roberts,  Desota  County  editor;  J.F.  Dorman, 

Suwanee  County  tax  collector;  Herbert  F.  Drane,  Lakeland 
insurance  agent  and  party  official;  and  Frank  M.  Simonton, 
a  powerful  Tampa  political  personality. 

While  her  husband  traveled  around  the  state  May 
remained  in  Brooksville  and  ran  the  law  office,  which  also 
served  as  campaign  headquarters.   She  supervised  all  the 
correspondence.   It  was  a  prodigious  task,  but  she  proved 
capable  and  efficient.   One  contemporary  wrote  that  she 
organized  and  executed  "the  hardest  and  most  fatiguing, 
yet  quite  the  most  important  work  of  the  struggle  (and)  the 
masterly  manner  in  which  she  handled  the  mass  of  correspond- 
ence and  routine  work  of  the  campaign  (could)  be  attested 

to  by  hundreds  of  prominent  Floridians." 

The  pre-convention  slate  was  so  crowded  with  can- 
didates that  the  Florida  Times-Union  published  numerous 
front  page  cartoons  which  poked  fun  at  the  plethora  of 
gubernatorial  aspirants.     Much  of  the  campaign  seemed  to 
be  conducted  through  the  newspapers.   It  was  lackluster,  and 
seemed  to  generate  little  interest  or  enthusiasm.   One 
paper  lamented  the  "scarcity  of  state  political  news,"  while 
another  declared  that  "the  people  (were)  tired  of  politics." 
Only  Jennings '  campaign  managed  to  create  any  excitement 
when  his  famous  cousin  William  Jennings  Bryan  visited  the 
state.   In  February  of  1900,  Bryan  spent  four  days  in 
Brooksville.   He  gave  one  speech  from  the  balcony  of  the 


Jennings'  home.   His  visit  received  wide  press  coverage  in 
the  state  and  proved  to  be  a  publicity  bonanza  for  Sherman's 

The  real  campaign  took  place,  not  in  the  newspapers, 
but  in  the  county  conventions  where  delegates  for  the  state 
meetings  were  chosen.   The  local  caucuses  were  generally 
volatile  affairs  as  the  various  candidates  finagled  and 
maneuvered  to  secure  delegates.   By  the  time  the  state 
convention  convened  in  Jacksonville  on  June  19,  1900,  the 
slate  had  been  reduced  to  five  recognized  candidates,  al- 
though the  counties  had  selected  only  115  instructed  dele- 
gates out  of  a  possible  282.   The  Deland  Record   declared 
that  "so  many  of  the  counties  are  sending  uninstructed 

delegates  that  what  will  be  the  convention's  will  is  simply 

3  8 

guesswork."     Another  paper  ran  a  banner  headline  telling 

the  public  to  "Pay  your  money--Take  your  choice. 

The  candidates,  in  addition  to  Sherman,  were  Fred  T. 

Myers,  Leon  County  state  senator;  James  D.  Beggs,  Orange 

County  judge;  William  H.  Milton,  Jr. ,  Jackson  County 

committeeman   and  son  of  Florida's  Civil  War  governor;  and 

Danette  H.  Mays,  Jefferson  County  legislator.   All  were 

more  politically  conservative  than  Sherman.   Jennings  was 

considered  to  have  a  slight  advantage  over  the  others.   The 

Tampa  Tribune,  which  endorsed  him,  wrote:  "The  political  signs 

of  the  times  point  almost  invariably  to  Jennings  (whose) 


strength  has  proved  a  revelation  to  his  opponents  and  a 

.  .  40 

little  surprising  even  to  his  friends." 

The  1900  convention  has  been  described  as  one  of 

"the  most  remarkable  political  conventions  ever  held  in 

Florida.      It  was  certainly  one  of  the  rowdiest  and  most 

tumultuous.   It  met  in  Jacksonville's  new  Emory  Auditorium, 

which  had  been  specially  outfitted  with  electric  lights 

and  grandstands  to  hold  the  more  than  2,000  people  who 

attended.   There  were  fewer  than  300  delegate  votes.   The 

hall  was  decorated  with  potted  ferns  and  palms,  1,500  yards 

of  red,  white,  and  blue  bunting,  and  large  pictures  of 

famous  past  Democratic  party  greats.   "A  giant  portrait  of 

Willian  Jennings  Bryan   gazed  benignly  from  the  back  wall 

of  the  rostrum. "     A  band  was  hired  to  entertain  the  spec- 
tators and  delegates  during  lulls  in  the  sessions. 

Jacksonville  was  almost  overwhelmed  by  the  event. 
The  town  was  flooded  with  delegates  and  thousands  of  curi- 
osity seekers,  including  a  few  unsavory  types.   The  local 
press  was  provided  with  plenty  of  colorful  copy.   When  the 
Tampa  delegation  arrived,  a  reporter  covering  the  event 
noted  that  "one  of  the  features  of  the  trip  (had  been) 
Colonel  F.A.  Salmonson,  and  his  famous  fighting  gamecock 
'Fred'  .  .  .  one-eyed  and  generally  disreputable  looking 
as  any  bird  that  ever  came  to  the  city  .  .  .  (who  the) 

colonel  insisted  on  having  crow  at  every  station  on  the 


way  up. 


Delegates  were  provided  with  free  streetcar  passes 
and  free  excursions  on  the  St.  Johns  River  and  to  Pablo 

Beach.   They  were  also  invited  to  a  "smoker,"  which,  accord- 

ing  to  one  report  proved  to  be  "a  howling  success."     Dances 

were  held  every  evening  in  the  city's  hotels,  and  there 
were  many  dinner  parties,  receptions,  and  soirees  in  pri- 
vate homes.   It  was  advertised  that  "no  tickets  were  required 

to  admxt  ladies  to  the  hall  at  anytime."     Reporters  noted 

the  "faithful  attendance  of  the  fair  sex,"  whose  "flashing 

colors  (and)  bright  costumes  but  added  to  the  brilliancy 

of  the  scene."     May  attended  every  session,  sometimes 

accompanied  by  some  of  the  wives  of  Hernando  delegates,  and 

other  occasions  by  Mrs.  Napoleon  Bonaparte  Broward,  wife  of 

the  prominent  Duval  politician  who  was  a  close  friend. 

Although  Jennings  was  conceded  to  be  the  favorite-- 
he  had  the  largest  number  of  committed  votes  and  the  support 
of  the  most  important  newspapers--the  nomination  was  by  no 
means  guaranteed.   When  the  convention  was  opened  he  had 
twenty-nine  committed  votes;  Beggs,  Mays,  Meyers,  and  Milton 
had  twenty-eight,  twenty-seven,  twenty,  and  eleven  votes 
respectively.   The  nomination  required  a  total  of  188  votes. 
Whoever  came  out  as  winner  was  going  to  have  to  do  some 
compromising  and  "horsetrading. " 

The  Jennings  party  had  reservations  at  the  Windsor 
Hotel,  which  was  reported  to  be  the  convention's  "storm 
center  .  .  .  its  lobbies  and  piazzas  crowded  until  late 


hours."     Liberals  and  conservatives,  businessmen  and 

farmers,  citizens  from  Tallahassee  and  Jacksonville,  and 

all  over  Florida  vied  for  control  of  the  convention.   The 

Hernando  County  delegates,  who  strongly  endorsed  Jennings 

had  only  one-sixteenth  a  vote  each.   This,  as  opposed  to 

one-fifth,  one-fourth,  one-half,  and  one  vote  per  man  in 

the  other  delegations,  caused  quite  a  stir.   It  was  reported 

that  "Jennings'  fractionalization  plan  was  a  puzzle  to  the 

politicians,  a  source  of  deep  regret,  and  established  a  new 

and  ingenious  method  of  preventing  losses  except  in  immate- 

rial  fractions."     It  created  a  stable  base  on  which  to 

build  convention  support.   "Jennings'  opponents  tried  to 

sabotage  his  candidacy  by  drawing  attention  to  his  Northern 

origins  and  alleging  he  was  named  for  the  hated  Yankee 

general  William  Tecumseh  Sherman.   Jennings  was  also  accused 

of  engaging  in  'south-hating  antics.1   The  'Bloody  Shirt1 

of  the  Civil  War  and  Reconstruction  was  still  being  waved."  " 

The  charges  failed  to  sway  many  of  the  Jennings  supporters. 

The  first  two  days  of  the  convention  were  taken  up 
with  choosing  a  chairman,  drawing-up  a  platform,  endorsing 
the  1896  National  Democratic  platform,  and  nominating  minor 
candidates.   The  business  of  choosing  a  gubernatorial  nomi- 
nee began  the  third  day.   Jennings  was  nominated  by  CM. 
Brown  of  Marion  County  and  seconded  by  J.H.  Curry  and  General 
Allen  Thomas  of  Hillsborough  County.  Eight  votes  were  taken, 
and  Jennings'  total  climbed  to  81.   Myers  trailed  with 


7  6  1/2  votes.   It  was  exhausting  for  the  secretaries  who 
"were  taxed  in  calling  and  announcing  the  votes  (and)  in 
the  constant  work  of  listening  for  the  faintly  heard 
answers  .  .  .  from  the  far  ends  of  the  hall  and  in  footing 
the  long  columns  of  scores."   They  were  "all  heartily  glad 
of  the  relief  that  came  with  adjournment." 

Balloting  continued  on  the  fourth,  and  as  it  turned 
out,  the  final  day  of  the  convention.   Only  once  did  Jen- 
nings trail.   The  climax  came  in  the  late  afternoon.   The 
hall  was  filled  to  capacity,  every  seat  was  occupied,  and 
people  stood  up  in  the  back  and  thronged  the  corridors.   It 
was  hot,  and  the  delegates  were  tired.   The  roll  calls 
seemed  endless;  everyone  awaited  the  final  outcome.   Several 

times  during  the  day  rumors  swept  the  hall,  causing  "the 

convention  (to)  become  wild  with  excitement  and  confusion." 

By  the  thirtieth  ballot  there  was  so  much  noise  and  confusion 
that  the  band  was  called  upon  to  play  so  as  to  restore  order. 
At  6  p.m.,  when  the  chair  declared  a  suppertime  recess, 
Jennings  had  130  votes  and  Mays  122  1/2. 

Shortly  after  the  convention  reconvened,  the  deadlock 
was  broken.   Mays  arose  and  solemnly  announced  his  with- 
drawal.  There  were  a  few  seconds  of  silence,  and  then  the 
delegates  realized  that  the  expected  break  had  come,  and 
there  was  a  mad  scramble  to  switch  votes.   The  hall  was  a 
sea  of  confusion.   On  the  forty-third  ballot  Beggs  withdrew, 
and  the  final  obstacle  was  removed.   On  the  next  ballot, 


cast  at  10  p.m. ,  the  Leon  County  delegation  threw  its  sup- 
port to  Jennings  and  he  was  over  the  top.   He  had  19  2  votes, 
and  was  declared  the  nominee. 

The  delegates  and  spectators  broke  into  cheers.   May, 
and  the  ladies  with  her,  applauded.   Chaos  reigned.   "Dele- 
gates left  their  places  and  crowded  around  the  nominee's 

chair.  ...   He  was  lifted  to  the  shoulders  of  a  dozen 

stalwarts  and  carried  the  length  of  the  hall."     Not  every- 
one, as  it  turned  out  was  happy;  Mrs.  Mays,  who  was  seated 
in  the  gallery,  was  overheard  to  remark,  "Anybody  can  be 

governor  of  Florida  these  days,  even  a  jack  rabbit.   All 

you  have  to  do  is  wag  your  ears  and  you  are  chosen." 

In  a  brief  acceptance  speech  Jennings  pledged  his 

commitment  to  the  party's  platform.   He  viewed  his  nomina- 

.  .     54 
tion  as  "an  honor  and  sacred  responsibility.      When  the 

final  gavel  of  the  convention  sounded  at  4  a.m. ,  only  a  few 

delegates  remained  in  the  hall.   "The  band,  worn  out  with 

the  labors  of  the  day  and  night,  were  stretched  on  chairs 

sound  asleep  or  lolling  about  waiting  with  hardly  concealed 

impatience  for  the  last  tune." 

How  did  Jennings  win  the  nomination?   What  broke  the 
deadlock  and  why  did  Mays  withdraw  from  the  race?   Why  did 
the  Leon  County  delegation  switch  its  vote?   Did  Henry 
Flagler  and  the  railroads  buy  the  convention?   These  were 
some  of  the  questions  being  asked  almost  before  the  conven- 
tion was  formally  ended.   It  was  speculated  that  Jennings 


and  Mays,  a  corporate  man,  had  made  some  kind  of  deal  during 
the  6:00  recess.   It  does  seem  likely  that  Mays  would  not 
have  withdrawn  at  that  time  unless  he  thought  he  would  reap 
some  benefits  for  himself  by  that  action.   Yet,  despite  the 
historical  surmises  and  curiosity,  no  evidence  of  a  deal 
has  ever  been  uncovered.   The  puzzles  and  questions  still 

J.D.  Beggs  later  wrote  Jennings  to  congratulate  him 

and  concede  that  he  had  been  "fairly  and  honorably  nomi- 


nated."     But   Herbert  Drane  saw  the  convention  as   the 


hardest  most  vindictive  fight  ever."     J.M.  Barrs  felt  that 

"for  the  first  time  in  many  years  (the  convention)  was  truly 
democratic  and  thoroughly  representative  of  the  people  .  .  . 

many  of  those  who  had  hereto  dominated  the  party  (did)  not 

5  8 
enter  the  convention  hall  during  any  of  its  sessions. " 

Two  modern  students  of  Florida  politics  wrote  that  "the 

1900  convention  was  significant  because  it  pointed  out  how 

difficult  it  had  been  to  keep  factionalism  within  the  bounds 

of  the   convention  system  (with)  party  leaders  (being)  badly 

divided  over  Jennings'  candidacy  (some)  clearly  feeling  that 

he  was  too  progressive  and  too  much  a  Yankee  to  be  their 

gubernatorial  candidate.   The  forty-four  ballots  had  estab- 

lished  a  record."     Perhaps  Jennings  was  nominated  for  no 

more  sinister  a  reason  than  that  he  was  the  only  middle-of- 
the-road  candidate  both  sides  could  accept. 


The  Jennings  nomination  was  celebrated  by  liberals 
and  progressives  throughout  Florida.   The  "silk  hats"  had 
been  defeated,  or  at  least  it  seemed  that  way  for  the 
moment.   A  new  era  was  beginning.   One  supporter  wrote  the 
new  nominee,  "I  thank  God  the  old  fossil  (bourbonism)  in 
Florida  is  dead.   Now  we  trust  to  have  new  blood,  new 
ideas. " 

When  the  news  of  Jenning's  nomination  reached  Brooks- 
ville  it  touched  off  a  wild  celebration.   The  Jennings 
party  was  met  at  the  train  station  by  practically  the  whole 
population  and  with  the  firing  of  "Roman  candles,  fire- 
crackers, and  even  .38  calibre  guns.  .  .  .   The  skies  (were) 
aglow  with  happiness  and  hilarity."   A  carriage  drawn  by 
two  horses  and  carrying  onlookers  to  the  festivities   "ran 
away"  and  dumped  all  its  occupants  out  on  the  street.     The 
celebrating  continued  for  several  days. 

In  August,  Sherman,  May  and  son  Bryan,  nov;  six  years 
old,  traveled  to  Illinois  for  a  rest  and  to  visit  relatives. 
Jennings  attended  the  National  Democratic  convention  in 
Indianapolis,  and  was  present  when  his  cousin  Bryan  won  his 
second  presidential  nomination.   When  the  Jennings  family 
returned  to  Florida  they  began  preparations  for  the  fall 
campaign.   Austin  Mann,  now  fifty-three,  wrote  to  his  son- 
in-law  offering  his  services.   He  could  "bring  up  (his) 
Alliance  Forces"  if  Sherman  needed  them.   The  offer  was 
quietly  declined. 


Although  the  Democratic  nomination  was  tantamount  to 
election,  it  was  deemed  important  to  the  ticket  for  the 
candidates  to  campaign.   An  elaborate  and  exhaustive  itiner- 
ary was  put  together.   In  addition  to  Jennings,  the  party's 
nominees  included  John  L.  Crawford,  secretary  of  state; 
William  B.  Lamar,  attorney  general;  James  B.  Whitfield, 
state  treasurer;  William  N.  Sheats,  superintendent  of  public 
instruction;  Benjamin  McLin ,  commissioner  of  agriculture; 
William  H.  Reynolds,  comptroller,  J.  D.  Morgan,  railroad 
commissioner;  and  Stephen  M.  Sparkman  and  Robert  W.  Davis, 
for  Congress.   Jennings'  two  opponents  were  Republican 
Matthew  B.  MacFarlane  and  Populist  A.  M.  Morton,  neither  of 
whom  was  considered  a  threat. 

The  Florida  platform  called  for  the  adoption  of  a 
state  primary  law,  municipal  ownership  of  utilities,  improve- 
ment of  public  roads,  reorganization  of  the  state  supreme 
court,  reform  of  public  roads,  reform  of  the  convict  lease 
system,  and  support  of  the  railroad  commission.     Jennings 
wanted  the  state  to  increase  the  responsibilities  of  the  State 
Board  of  Health,  adopt  free  school  textbooks,  and  equalize 
assessments  and  taxes.   Two  issues  dominated  the  campaign; 
a  referendum  on  removal  of  the  Capitol  from  Tallahassee  and 
a  proposal  for  teacher  examinations.   Four  cities  vied  for  the 
Capitol  site.   They  were  Tallahassee,  Jacksonville,  St. 
Augustine,  and  Ocala.   Each  community  lobbied  vigorously 


making  charges  and  promises  in  the  attempt  to  win  the  covet- 
ed prize.   The  new  teachers'  certification  program  was  lost 
in  the  debate  that  swirled  around  its  sponsor,  William  N. 
Sheats.   Jennings  had  approved  the  teachers'  examination, 
but  he  was  noncommittal  concerning  the  Capitol  site. 

The  campaign  was  launched  at  Miami  in  September.   It 
was  Jennings'  first  visit  to  the  city,  and  he  was  favorably 
impressed.   For  over  a  month  and  a  half  he  and  the  other 
Democratic  candidates  toured  the  state  giving  speeches, 
attending  receptions,  eating  barbecue,  and  meeting  with 
voters.   They  traveled  by  boat,  buggy,  and  train.   In  fifty- 
three  days  fifty-three  towns  and  every  Florida  county  was 
visited.   Although  the  travel  and  speaking  were  fatiguing 
Jennings  enjoyed  the  campaign.   At  Crystal  River  he  sang 

with  a  quartet,  and  it  was  reported  that  he  had  a  "fine 

tenor  voice.      At  Ocala  he  toured  Silver  Springs.   In 

Defuniak  Springs  his  host  told  the  crowd  that  "Florida  had 
had  the  ugliest  Governor  in  the  Union,  she  was  now  to  have 
one  of  the  handsomest. "  "      During  each  speech  Sherman  made 
it  a  point  to  recognize  the  ladies  in  the  audience.   At 
Pensacola  he  remarked  that  "women  were  more  interested  in 
good  government  than  any  other  class  of  citizens."     Re- 
porters noted  that  on  more  than  one  occasion  "nearly  every 

lady  in  the  audience  went  up  and  shook"  his  hand.     Thus, 

it  seemed  that  even  though  May  was  not   on  the  campaign 


trail  with  him,  her  presence  and  spirit  evidently  traveled 
with  him. 

The  campaign  was  dull  and  created  little  real  news. 
Jennings  stuck  to  the  issues  as  had  been  expected.   He 
seldom  if  ever  mentioned  his  opponents.   Of  course,  there 
was  no  real  need  to.   Macfarlane,  however,  had  much  to  say 
about  the  Democratic  nominee.   He  called  Jennings  a  Yankee, 
a  carpetbagger,  and  a  "snake  oil  salesman."   It  was  also 
claimed  that  the  only  reason  he  had  received  the  nomination 
was  because  he  was  William  Jennings  Bryan's  cousin. 

Election  day  was  November  6.   Sherman,  May  and  their 
friends  waited  for  the  returns  in  Brooksville.   There  was 
little  doubt  about  the  outcome.   As  expected,  all  of  the 

Democratic  candidates  won.   The  vote  in  the  governor's  race 


was  Jennings  29,251,  MacFarlane  6,248,  and  Morton  631. 

It  was  one  of  the  largest  Democratic  victories  in  Florida 
political  history;  Jennings  received  eighty-one  percent  of 
the  total  vote.   Tallahassee  won  reaffirmation  as  the  state 
Capitol.   The  Democratic  party  was  not  as  fortunate  nation- 
ally as  it  had  been  in  Florida.   William  Jennings  Bryan, 
and  his  running  mate,  Adlai  Stevenson,  were  defeated  by 
McKinley  and  Roosevelt.   Once  again  the  "Great  Commoner" 
was  denied  the  presidency.   Jennings  received  a  kind  congrat- 
ulatory  note  from  his  defeated  cousin  who  urged  him  to  be 
"a  Jeffersonian  and  an  equal  rightist"  and  ended  his  letter 

with  the  despondent  line,  "well  at  least  I  can  be  known  as 

the  cousin  of  a  governor." 


May  had  never  been  happier  or  prouder  of  her  husband. 
She  could  hardly  restrain  her  anticipation  and  enthusiasm 
as  she  began  to  make  plans  for  the  move  to  Tallahassee. 
Four  years  of  political  duty  and  personal  pleasure  lay  ahead. 

Notes  to  Chapter  III 

A.B.  Caldwell,  editor,  Makers  of  America:  Florida 
Edition  (Atlanta,  1911),  IV,  p.  252. 


Cadet  certificates  in  the  possession  of  Dorothy 

Jennings  Sandridge. 

Mary  Bryan  to  May  Jennings,  February  28,  1920.   In 

the  possession  of  Dorothy  Jennings  Sandridge. 


"Brooksville  Sun,  June  27,  1952. 

Louis  W.  Koenig,  Bryan:  A  Political  Biography  of 

William  Jennings  Bryan  (New  York,  1971),  p.  39. 

Florida  Bar  certificates  in  possession  of  Dorothy 
Jennings  Sandridge. 

James  H.  Jones,  History  of  Brooksville  City  Govern- 
ment (Brooksville,  1965),  n.p. 


John  R.  Willis  to  May  Jennings,  February,  19  20. 
In  possession  of  Dorothy  Jennings  Sandridge. 


James  H.  Jones,  Genealogical  Record  of  Legal 

Marriages  in  Hernando  County  for  the  Period,  1877-1890, 
n.p.       ~       "  

Sunnylands:  A  Florida  Monthly  Magazine,  III,  August, 
1901,  p.  109. 

Barbour,  Florida  for  Tourists,  p.  58. 


Oliver  Marvin  Crosby,  Florida  Facts  (New  York, 

1887) ,  p.  101. 


Brooksville  Board  of  Trade,  A  Book  of  Facts  for  Those 

Seeking  New  Locations  in  the  South  (Chicago,  1909) ,  p.  6. 


'Brooksville  The  Hernando  News ,  July  25,  1891. 


Undated  and  unidentified  newspapers  clipping. 

Jennings  Scrapbook  No.  1,  19  01.   WSJ  Papers. 

1 6 

Gainesville  Daily  Sun,  June  11,  1901. 


Biographical  sketch  of  May  Mann  Jennings,  1919. 

MMJ  Papers,  Box  19. 



Minutes  of  the  Eighth  Annual  Convention  of  the 
Florida  Sunday  School  Association  (Ocala,  1889) ,  p.  24. 


Harry  C.  Garwood,  Stetson  University  and  Florida 
Baptists  (Deland,  Florida,  1962),  p.  78;  Jack  P.  Dalton, 
"A  History  of  Florida  Baptists"  (Ph.D.  dissertation,  Univer- 
sity of  Florida,  1952) ,  passim. 

Brooksville  Sun,  November  28,  1952. 


Brooksville  The  Hernando  News,  July  25,  1891. 


Brooksville  News  Register,  January  23,  1895. 


Stanaback,  History  of  Hernando  County,  p.  62. 


Brooksville  The  Hernando  News,  August  22,  1891. 

25  , 

Blackman,  The  Women  of  Florida,  I,  p.  130. 


William  T.  Cash,  The  Story  of  Florida  (New  York, 
1938),  II,  p.  520. 


Undated  and  unidentified  newspaper  clipping.   Jen- 
nings Scrapbook  No.  1,  19  01.   WSJ  Papers. 

2  8 

Williamson,  Florida  Politics  in  the  Gilded  Age, 
passim.  '  ~ 


Ibid. ,  p.  187. 


V.O.  Key,  Jr.,  Southern  Politics  in  State  and  Nation 
(New  York,  1949)  ,  p.  82"!  ~ — 

31,,   -, 

Pavlovsky,  "We  Busted  Because  We  Failed,"  p.  215. 


The  book,  costing  $1.25,  was  ordered  from  Drew  and 
Co.,  Jacksonville,  June  17,  1899.   WSJ  Papers,  Box  3. 


William  S.  Jennings  to  Elkhart  Carriage  Comoany, 
October  24,  1899.   WSJ  Papers,  Box  3. 


Pavlovsky,  "We  Busted  Because  We  Failed,"  p.  230. 

35   , 

Undated  and  unidentified  newspaper  cliopina.   Jen- 
nings Scrapbook  No.  1,  1901.   WSJ  Papers. 

Jacksonville  Florida  Times-Union,  ADril  9,  1900, 
April  15,  1900,  April  29,  1900,  May  6,  1900. 



Palatka  Advertiser,  April  30,  1900;  Tampa  Times, 

May  10,  1900. 

3  8 

Deland  Volusia  County  Record,  May  17,  1900. 


Jacksonville  Florida  Times-Union,  May  27,  1900. 


Tampa  Tribune,  May  28,  19  00. 


Jacksonville  Florida  Times-Union,  June  24,  1900. 


Samuel  Proctor,  Napoleon  Bonaparte  Broward:  Florida's 

Fighting  Democrat  (Gainesville,  1950)  ,  p.  161. 


Jacksonville  Florida  Times-Union,  June  19,  1900. 


Ibid. ,  June  22,  1900. 

45Ibid. ,  June  19,  1900. 


Ibid. ,  June  20,  1900. 

47Ibid. ,  June  18,  1900. 



David  Colburn  and  Richard  K.  Scher,  "Florida  Guber- 
natorial Politics  in  the  Twentieth  Century"  (Unpublished 
MS.) ,  p.  104. 

Jacksonville  Florida  Times-Union,  June  12,  1900. 




Proctor,  Broward,  p.  163. 


Jacksonville  Florida  Times-Union,  June  22,  1900. 

55Ibid. ,  June  24,  1900. 

J.D.  Beggs  to  William  S.  Jennings,  July  5,  1900. 
WSJ   Papers,  Box  4. 


Herbert  Drane  to  William  S.  Jennings,  June  25,  1900. 

WSJ  Papers,  Box  4. 


John  M.  Barrs,  Some  A.D.  1900  Democratic  Platforms 

in  Florida  (Jacksonville,  1900),  n.p.         "" "   ' 


Colburn  and  Scher,  "Florida  Gubernatorial  Politics," 
p.  104. 

60John  H.  Lee  to  William  S.  Jennings,  June  23,  1900. 
WSJ  Papers,  Box  4. 


E.R.  Russell,  Brooksville  As  I  First  Knew  It 

(Brooksville,  1962) ,  n.p. 

A.S.  Mann  to  William  S.  Jennings,  August  22,  1899. 
WSJ  Papers,  Box  3. 

Barrs,  Some  A.D.  1900  Democrats  Platforms,  n.p. 

"Jacksonville  Florida  Times-Union,  October  4,  1900. 

6°Ibid. ,  September  20,  1900. 

66Ibid. ,  September  21,  1900. 

67Ibid. ,  September  5,  1900. 

6  8 

William  Jennings  Bryan  to  William  S.  Jennings, 

October  15,  190  0.   WSJ  Papers,  Box  5. 


As  the  1901  Florida  gubernatorial  inauguration 
approached  an  air  of  optimism  and  excitement  permeated  the 
state.   The  people  who  arrived  in  the  capital  city  for  the 
event  seemed  happier  and  more  enthusiastic  than  past 
inaugural  crowds.   The  state  was  installing  a  man  of  youth, 
vitality,  and  new  ideas.   Floridians,  at  least  those  con- 
cerned with  political  matters,  were  satisfied.   A  new 
century  had  been  ushered  in.   The  state  was  recovering 
from  the  calamitous  freezes  of  1894,  1895,  and  1898.   Yellow 
fever  was  being  brought  under  control.   Tourism  was  booming. 
Personal  income  was  up.   The  state's  population  was  growing. 
Floridians  believed  that  their  state  was  on  the  threshold 
of  a  new  era  of  development  and  progress.   A  confident 
future  lay  ahead.   William  Sherman  Jennings,  only  thirty- 
seven  at  the  time,  and  youngest  governor  up  to  that  date, 
seemed  to  personify  that  future  for  Florida. 

The  years  that  Sherman  and  May  served  as  governor 
and  First  Lady  would  parallel  many  great  events  and  changes 
in  the  history  of  America  and  the  world.   Between  1900  and 
1905  the  Boer  War  in  South  Africa  and  the  Philippine  cam- 
paign would  be  concluded.   Queen  Victoria  would  pass  away, 
and  with  her   Europe's  and  the  western  world's  stability. 



President  McKinley  would  be  assassinated,  and  his  successor, 
Theodore  Roosevelt,  would  stamp  his  own  personality  on  the 
country's  political  thought.   Marie  Curie  would  win  the 
Nobel  Prize,  and  the  equations  of  Einstein  and  Planck  would 
turn  topsy-turvy   the  very  laws  of  the  universe.   The  auto- 
mobile would  begin  to  revolutionaize  transportation  and  the 
Wright  brother's  "flying  machine"  would  prove  that  man  indeed 
could  fly  and  that  most  of  the  world  would  one  day  be  only 
hours  or  minutes  away.   It  would  be  a  time  of  science  and 
invention,  of  wonder  and  amazement. 

These  first  years  of  the  twentieth  century  would  also 
be  a  time  of  optimism  and  idealism,  of  questioning,  reflec- 
tion, and  reform.   America  would  begin  to  discover  its 
conscience  and  would  try  to  bring  to  reality  some  of  the 
promises  of  the  Declaration  of  Independence  and  the  Bill  of 
Rights.   Some  Americans  would  begin  to  see  things  as  they 
should  be  rather  than  as  they  were.   The  "public  weal" 
would  become  society's  watchwords,  and  reformation  and 
redress  would  issue  from  every  hall  of  government.   As  a 
reaction  to  the  social  and  economic  abuses  of  the  "gilded 
age"  a  new  ideology  would  develop  which  would  accord  to 
government  a  bigger  role  in  its  citizens'  lives. 

During  this  time,  reformers,  North  and  South,  would 
call  for  the  establishment  of  primary  elections;  direct 
election  of  United  States  Senators;  adoption  of  the  Austral- 
ian ballot;  the  right  to  initiative,  referendum,  and  recall; 


public  ownership  of  utilities;  more  vigorous  regulation 
and  curtailment  of  monopolies  and  trusts;  laws  regulating 
the  drug  and  food  industries;  regulation  of  female  and 
child  labor;  reform  of  public  education,  adoption  of  a 
national  income  tax;  abolition  of  the  poll  tax;  abolish- 
ment of  the  convict-lease  system;  improvement  of  roads 
and  highways;  and     the  adoption  of  the  commissioner- 
manager  type  of  city  government.   Later  generations  would 
look  back  and  label  this  period  the  "progressive  era." 

Sadly,  progressivism  would  coincide  with  a  movement 
which  would  deny  many  American  citizens  their  political 
and  civil  rights.   Jim  Crow  would  emerge  full  flower  out 
of  the  same  political  cauldron  which  produced  reforms. 
The  Jennings  administration  would  be  one  of  Florida's  most 
liberal  governments  but  on  the  race  question  it  would  join 
the  conservative  Southern  majority.   Blacks  would  be  seen 
as  intellectual  and  moral  inferiors  and  be  deemed  useful 
and  competent  only  when  in  the  charge  of  whites.   They  would 
continue  to  live  in  poverty  and  in  ignorance,  inadequately 
paid  and  housed,  uneducated,  and  with  a  shockingly  high 
mortality  rate.   For  poor  whites  it  was  also  a  time  of 
economic  oppression  and  hardship.   They  too  were  illiterate 
and  uncultured.   Hookworm  and  rickets  would  attack  their 
children,  and  the  poll  tax  would  keep  the  adults  away  from 
the  ballot  box. 

Despite  the  prevailing  attitude  toward  blacks,  the 
Jennings  would  befriend  many  of  them,  and  in  later  years 


May  would  be  viewed  by  blacks  as  an  important  friend  and 
ally.   But  in  1901  white  supremacy  prevailed,  and  the 
Jennings  lived  by  the  accepted  code.   One  of  Sherman's  first 
acts  as  governor  would  be  to  sign  into  law  a  bill  estab- 
lishing a  "white's  only"  political  primary  system  in 
Florida.   The  new  law  would  be  hailed  by  progressives  as 
necessary  and  forward  looking  even  though  it  closed  the 
door  in  the  South  to  black  involvement  in  the  political 
process.   In  19  01,  when  Booker  T.  Washington  dined  with 
President  Roosevelt  at  the  White  House,  Governor  Jennings 
remarked  to  the  newspapers  that  the  event  only  encouraged 
"the  Negro  to  demand  a  social  equality  that  (could)  not  be 
granted  him,"  and  that  he  "personally  regretted  the  (White 
House)  matter  exceedingly." 

To  the  Jennings  and  other  southern  liberals,  physi- 
cal freedom  for  blacks  would  be  tolerated,  equality  and 
full  civil  rights  would  not.   One  historian  put  it  succinct- 
ly when  he  wrote,  " (progressives)  did  not  envision  racial 
tolerance  or  political  equality  for  the  Negro.   The  gifts 

of  Jeffersonian  democracy  were  to  be  accorded  only  to  the 


white  population."    Nevertheless,  the  Jennings  years 

would  provide  Florida  with  a  generally  progressive  govern- 
ment. Sherman  and  May  would  look  back  with  pride  at  their 
accomplishments  and  years  in  Tallahassee. 

The  Jennings  inaugural  took  place  on  January  8,  1901. 
The  family,  which  consisted  of  Sherman,  May,  eight  year  old 


Bryan,  Sherman's  mother,  Amanda,  and  the  Manns,  Austin, 
Alsina,  Grace,  and  Austin,  Jr. ,  arrived  in  Tallahassee 
several  days  prior  to  the  inaugural.   They  stayed  at  the 
elegant  Leon  Hotel  where  ten  rooms  had  been  reserved  for 
them.   In  addition  to  family  members,  hundreds  of  friends 
and  political  acquaintances  took,  rooms  at  the  Leon,  the  St. 
James,  and  at  other  city  hostelries. 

In  the  week  prior  to  the  inaugural  visitors  began 
arriving  in  Tallahassee.   Some  came  to  participate  in  the 
festivities,  others  only  to  observe  an  exciting  state  event. 
Each  incoming  train  was  filled  to  capacity.   Reporters  noted 
that  although  Tallahassee  had  a  population  of  less  than  3,000 
people,  triple  that  number  had  crowded  into  the  capital 
during  inaugural  week.   The  community  did  its  best  to  cope 
with  the  situation  and  to  accommodate  the  multitudes.   Dances, 
dinner  parties,  and  public  entertainments  helped  to  keep  the 
visitors  busy,  but  they  also  visited  the  Capitol  and  other 
public  buildings,  and  took  carriage  rides  into  the  nearby 
countryside.   By  inaugural  eve  a  carnival  atmosphere  per- 
vaded the  town;  "the  streets  (being)  thronged  with  handsome 

soldiers  in  bright  uniforms  accompanied  by  lovely  women"  all 

laughing  and  talking  animatedly. 

Inaugural  day  was  sunny  and  bright;  it  proved  "de- 

lightful, fair  and  balmy,  fitting  for  the  first  great  event 


of  the  new  century."    An  impressive  military  parade  led 

off  the  festivities.   The  procession,  which  formed  behind 


the  Capitol  building,  commenced  at  10:00  a.m.,  and  pro- 
ceeded slowly  through  the  downtown  district  and  back  up  to 
the  east  side  of  the  Capitol.   Marching  were  the  Pensacola 
Brass  Band,  the  Governor's  Guard  and  military  staff,  fifteen 
colorful  military  units  from  around  the  state,  and  Florida's 
small   but  impressive  naval  militia.   These  units  were  fol- 
lowed by  the  official  party  and  other  dignitaries  riding 
in  open  carriages.   They  included  Governor  Bloxham  and 
Jennings,  Mrs.  Bloxham  and  May,  cabinet  officers  and  their 
wives,  city  officials,  and  a  detachment  of  Confederate 
veterans  who  when  they  drove  by  wearing  their  uniforms  were 
wildly  applauded.   The  parade  route  was  festooned  with  flags, 
colorful  bunting,  and  posters,  and  was  lined  with  hundreds 
of  citizens  who  cheered  with  enthusiasm  as  each  new  unit 
passed  by.   The  local  newspaper  hailed  the  inaugural  as  "a 

red  letter  day  in  the  capital  city's  history,"  and  described 

the  parade  as  "a  spectacle  not  soon  forgotten." 

The  oath  of  office  was  administered  to  the  new  gover- 
nor on  the  east  portico  of  the  Capitol  at  high  noon.    May, 
who  was  dressed  in  a  black  crepe  de  paris  dress  and  a  large, 
colorful  hat,  sat  on  the  dais  near  her  husband.   She  did  not 
participate  in  the  formal  ceremony,  but  her  presence  was 
acknowledged  by  all  the  speakers.   Chief  Justice  Fenwick 
Taylor  administered  the  oath  of  office  to  Jennings  who  was 
dressed  in  a  new  black  broadcloth  suit  which  May  had  ordered 
from  New  York  City.   After  presentation  of  the  state  seal 


and  remarks  by  Bloxham,  Jennings  delivered  his  inaugural 
address.   It  was  read  in  a  strong,  forceful  voice.   Though 

written  in  ponderous  prose  and  over  7,000  words  in  length, 

the  speech  was  uplifting  and  optimistic  in  tone.    It  was 

more  than  mere  rhetoric;  it  outlined  specific  problems 
facing  the  state  and  offered  concrete  solutions.   The  new 
governor  called  for  reform  of  the  state's  overcrowded  and 
stalemated  judicial  system,  establishment  of  uniform  state- 
wide property  tax  assessments,  liberal  support  of  public 
education,  and  rigorous  enforcement  of  the  state's  health 
laws.   The  address  was  warmly  applauded  by  the  crowd. 

At  the  conclusion  of  the  formal  ceremonies,  the 
Jennings  were  escorted  to  the  governor's  chambers  where 
they  were  greeted  by  the  cabinet  and  other  prominent  state 
officials.   At  midafternoon  May  returned  to  the  Leon  Hotel 
to  rest  and  to  prepare  for  the  evenings'  events.   Sherman, 
accompanied  by  a  retinue  of  politicians  and  state  digni- 
taries, walked  over  to  Wayne  Square  for  a  barbecue  and  a 
review  of  the  state  troops.   That  evening  a  splendid  recep- 
tion and  ball  were  held  at  the  Leon.   No   formal  invitations 
had  been  sent,  and  ordinary  folk — "crackers,"  farmers,  and 
small  town  businessmen--were  observed  rubbing  elbows  with 
high  ranking  state  officials.   The  new  governor  was  applauded 
by  the  state's  newspapers  for  insisting  upon  a  "people's 


Hundreds  of  people  jammed  into  the  Leon,  which  was 
decorated,  inside  and  out,  with  palms,  bamboo,  bunting  and 
flowers.   Entertainment  included  vocals  and  piano  instru- 
mental by  four  Tallahassee  ladies  and  dance  music  was 
provided  by  Chase's  Orchestra  brought  in  especially  for  the 
occasion  from  Jacksonville.   A  lavish  buffet  of  "chicken 

salad,  turkey,  Maryland  biscuits,  coffee,  and  chocolat  (sic) " 

helped  to  safisfy  everyone's  hunger.    May  and  Sherman 

received  well-wishers  in  the  hotel's  east  parlor  until  10:00 

p.m. ,  at  which  time  they  were  formally  escorted  into  the 

ballroom,  where  they  led  off  the  grand  march.   They  were  a 

handsome  couple.   Sherman  wore  a  new  tuxedo,  and  May,  only 

twenty-eight,  was  at  the  peak  of  her  beauty.   Her  ballgown 

elicited  much  excitement.   A  friend  wrote  that  "school  girls 

studied  fashion  plates  a  solid  week  in  order  to  understand 

the  descriptions"  of  it.     May  had  spent  months  designing 

and  making  the  gown.   It  cost  $150,  a  lot  of  money  in  1901, 

and  was  of  "white  satin  crepe,  embroidered  in  large  white 

chrysanthemums,  with  plain  crepe  folds  trimmed  in  lace." 

She  handmade  the  lace  for  the  dress  including  a  delicate 

little  butterfly  which  she  wore  in  her  hair.   Lacemaking  was 

one  of  the  domestic  arts  she  had  been  taught  by  the  French 

sisters  at  St.  Joseph's.   The  affair,  which  included  waltzes 

and  two-steps,  lasted  until  2:00  a.m.   It  was  reported  to 

have  been  "one  of  the  most  magnificent  balls  Tallahassee 


had  ever  witnessed. " 


The  Jennings  settled  into  a  busy  political  and  social 
routine  in  the  state's  capital.   Since  they  had  lived  in 
the  city  before,  they  were  quickly  accepted  by  the  local 
residents.   They  visited  in  the  homes  of  many  of  the  city's 
oldest  families,  and  were  frequently  entertained  by  friends 
and  political  acquaintances.   May  was  a  hostess  with  extra- 
ordinary  flair  and  verve,  and  whenever  she  entertained  it 
usually  elicited  newspaper  comment. 

The  Jennings  played  host  to  many  distinguished  nation- 
al personalities  who  visited  Florida.   They  included  scien- 
tists like  Thomas  A.  Edison,  and  industrialists  like  Ransom 
E.  Olds,  the  founder  of  the  town  of  Oldsmar.   Even  before 
the  1900  election  Jennings  had  met  Theodore  Roosevelt  who 

had  presented  May  with  an  armful  of  red  roses  in  repayment 

for  her  hospitality. 

During  their  stay  in  Tallahassee  the  Jennings  occa- 
sionally attended  local  entertainments.   Monroe's  Opera 
House  frequently  booked  traveling  operas,  roadshows,  and 
concerts.   These  events,  and  others  like  "Lesley's  All  Girl 
Band"  and  "Miss  Carrie  Rouse,  the  Celebrated  Whistler,"  were 
usually  greeted  by  an  enthusiastic ,  over-flowing  audience. 
In  1901  Bryan  Jennings  was  taken  to  see  the  circus  which 
was  visiting  the  town. 

For  the  first  two  years  of  their  stay  in  Tallahassee 
the  Jennings  resided  at  the  Leon.  In  late  1902  they  rented 
the  elegant  Cohen  mansion,  on  McCarthy  Street,  which  was 


described  as  one  of  Tallahassee's  "handsomest  and  most 

commodious  residences."     It  was  a  practical  choice  by 

May  for  Grace  still  lived  with  the  family  and  the  Manns  were 
frequent  visitors.   Bryan  Jennings  was  reluctant  to  leave 
the  Leon,  however,  and  years  later  he  remembered  the  old 
hotel  with  fondness,  especially  its  great  central  mahogany 
staircase  with  its  "smooth-as-silk"  banisters.     To  an 
active  and  imaginative  youngster  those  banisters  had  offered 
unlimited  temptations. 

May  spent  most  of  her  time  helping  her  husband.   They 
worked  together  as  a  political  team.   She  continued  to 
serve  as  his  closest  confidant,  and  she  was  frequently  a 
participant  in  informal  political  and  policy  discussions. 
May  was  deeply  interested  in  the  daily  workings  of  her  hus- 
band's administration,  and  he  in  turn  respected  her  opinions. 
One  contemporary  called  May  the  governor's  "right  hand 

man."     Another  referred  to  her  as  Sherman's  "trusted 

n    „17 

May  had  a  winning  style  with  politicians  for  she  was 

intelligent  and  tactful  as  well  as  cheerful  and  gracious. 

She  kept  abreast  of  both  state  and  national  political  events, 

and  when  required  she  could  expound  confidently  upon  current 

issues.    She  was  a  good  debator;  she  was  articulate  and 

she  did  her  "homework,"  reading  extensively  and  talking  to 

people.   Tallahassee  had  witnessed  few  politically  astute 

females,  and  she  acquired  a  reputation  for  her  political 

knowledge.   Her  keen  mind  and  political  skills  also  garnered 
for  her  many  admirers  and  friends. 

When  the  legislature  was  in  session  she  often  helped 
out  in  the  governor's  office,  greeting  visitors,  helping 
keep  tabs  on  critical  legislation,  and  aiding  the  staff  with 
the  many  tasks  required  to  keep  the  office  running  smoothly. 
The  governor's  personal  secretary  was  Charles  H.  Dickinson, 
of  Madison  County,  who  had  been  clerk  of  the  1895  House, 
and  who  had  held  his  county  delegation  firmly  in  the  Jen- 
nings  camp  at  the  19  00  state  convention.     Grace  Mann  was 
her  brother-in-law's  chief  stenographer.   She  had  worked 
earlier  for  him  in  his  Brooksville  law  office.   Her  secre- 
tarial skills  and  knowledge  of  legal  matters  was  so  exten- 
sive that  at  one  time  Sherman  attempted  to  get  her  admitted 
to  the  Florida  bar,  but,  the  "hue  and  cry"  from  this  all- 
male  organization  reached  such  a  crescendo  that  even  the 
state's  chief  executive  had  to  relent  and  abandon  the  idea. 
According  to  Grace's  daughter  she  carried  the  disappointment 

■4.U       U  *  19 

with  her  for  many  years. 

Jennings  proved  to  be  one  of  Florida's  ablest  chief 
executives.   He  is  described  by  historians  as  an  activist 

governor  although  his  personal  style  of  leadership  was  quiet, 

dignified,  and  unassuming.     He  was  the  first  governor  to 

truly  challenge  the  Bourbons  and  the  railroads  and  big 
business  interests  which  controlled  the  state.   He  is  cred- 
ited with  launching  the  progressive  trend  that  Florida 


gubernatorial  politics  followed  the  first  two  decades  of 
this  century. 

When  he  came  into  office  the  state's  finances  and 
land  policies  were  in  a  tangle.   The  state  was  in  deep  debt, 
and  it  had  deeded  away  or  granted  more  public  land  to  rail- 
roads and  corporations  than  even  itself  owned.   There  was 
a  critical  need  for  the  state  to  reestablish  its  authority 
and  control  over  the  public  domain.   Sherman  Jennings  ap- 
parently was  the  right  man  for  the  job.   He  was  honest  and 
sincere,  and  he  had  an  unblemished  personal  and  political 
record.   He  was  also  a  pragmatic,  "hardnosed"  fiscal  con- 
servative who  possessed  superior  administrative  and  mana- 
gerial skills.   He  had  all  the  qualities  needed  to  lead 
Florida  back  to  economic  soundness. 

The  Jennings  administration  established  an  impressive 
record.   It  increased  state  appropriations  to  higher  educa- 
tion and  provided  aid  to  certain  classes  of  high  school  and 
rural  grade  schools.   It  endorsed  free  textbooks.   It 
established  a  State  Auditing  Department,  and  was  responsi- 
ble for  the  passage  of  the  state's  first  bird  protection  and 
timber  protection  laws,  the  first  pure  food  and  drug  law, 
the  first  law  preventing  cruelty  to  children,  and  a  law 
raising  the  age  of  female  consent  from  sixteen  years  of 
age  to  eighteen  years  of  age.   It  was  responsible  for  the 
enlargement  and  renovation  of  the  Capitol  building  in  1902, 
and  it  reorganized  the  state  court  system  which  resulted 


in  the  appointment  of  three  new  Supreme  Court  justices  and 
additional  circuit  court  judges.   It  reorganized  the  state 
militia.   The  governor  supported  the  establishment  of  the 
primary  system,  and  under  his  leadership  Florida  achieved 
the  enviable  feat  of  reducing  taxes  while  at  the  same  time 
increasing  revenue.   During  the  1901  legislative  session 
two  bills  were  passed  which  benefited  Austin  Mann  and  his 
cronies.   One  extended  the  life  of  the  Florida  Grand  Trunk 
Railroad  grant  to  1910  and  the  second  gave  an  exclusive 
franchise,  to  operate  any  future  shipcanal  across  Florida, 
to  the  Florida  Ship  Canal  Company.   Mann  was  a  director  in 
each  of  these  enterprises.   Neither  company,  however,  ever 
profited  by  its  privileged  status. 

In  four  years  Jennings  reduced  the  state's  bonded 
debt  by  $1,032,000.   By  settling  Florida's  Indian  War  claims 
against  the  national  government  the  state  was  able  to  pay 
off  $132,000  in  bonds  and  save  $40,000  per  year  in  interest, 
as  well  as  receive  a  large  cash  settlement  from  Washington. 
Revenues  from  licenses,  stamps,  and  minor  taxes  were  in- 
creased.  By  reforming  the  state  convict-lease  system  an 
additional  $500,000  was  brought  into  the  treasury.   During 
his  tenure  Jennings  increased  the  amount  of  revenue  from  the 
sale  of  swamp  and  overflow  lands  by  100  percent,  but  he  also 
vetoed  numerous  unnecessary  appropriation  bills.   By  1905 
the  treasury  balance  had  been  increased  from  $32,805  to 
almost  $500,000,  and  the  bonded  debt  had  been  reduced  forty 

percent.   More  importantly  the  general  tax  rate  was  reduced 
from  three  mills  to  just  one-half  mill.   All  this  occurred 
while  funding  for  education,  state  institutions,  internal 
improvements,  and  pensions  was  increased.   It  was  a  truly 
remarkable  fiscal  record  and  was  enthusiastically  endorsed 
by  Florida's  citizens. 

By  far  the  greatest  accomplishment  and  legacy  of  the 
Jennings  administration  was  its  land  policy.   For  over  twenty- 
five  years  public  lands,  originally  designated  for  drainage 
and  reclamation  purposes,  had  been  routinely  granted  to 
railroads  and  corporations  as  a  subsidy.   Of  the  564  rail- 
roads receiving  charters  less  than  one-half  ever  built  roads. 
By  1901  this  misguided  giveaway  policy  had  resulted  in  the 
depletion  of  the  public  domain  and  in  the  curious  situation 
of  railroads  and  corporations  holding  grants  to  more  land 
than  the  state  owned.   Jennings  and  other  progressives 
argued  that  the  lands  belonged  to  the  people,  and  they  were 
outraged  by  the  scandalous  practice.   The  state's  most 
prized  resource  had  been  squandered.   The  governor  felt 
strongly  that  such  a  policy  could  be  legally  reversed  for 
it  was  subverting  the  intent  of  the  Internal  Improvement 

Act  of  1855,  which  had  reserved  the  lands  for  the  people 

and  for  reclamation  and  drainage. 

For  two  years  Jennings  and  his  staff  investigated, 

researched,  studied,  and  prepared  legal  briefs  on  the  status 

of  the  public  lands.   The  work  was  painstaking  and  tedious; 


few  reports  and  records  were  extant.   But  Jennings  perse- 
vered for  he  saw  the  administration  of  the  state's  lands 


as  "one  of  the  greatest  trusts"  he  had  been  vested  with. 

He  ordered  a  thorough  search  of  all  state  offices  and  ar- 
chives and  directed  that  minutes,  records,  and  laws  pertinent 
to  the  subject  be  published  and  put  into  the  public  record. 
In  the  course  of  these  investigations  he  found  that  a  vast 
tract  of  the  Everglades  had  never  been  patented.   With  the 
help  of  Florida's  congressional  delegation  and  by  personally 
pursuing  the  matter  in  Washington,  the  state  received  a 
patent  to  2,862,080  acres  of  South  Florida  land.   The  rail- 
roads, citing  earlier  state  grants  to  them,  immediately 
laid  claim  to  this  acreage  but  the  governor  had  other  plans 
for  it. 

In  his  1903  message  to  the  legislature  Jennings 
unveiled  an  elaborate  drainage  and  reclamation  plan  for  the 
Everglades.   The  idea  was  not  original  but  he  was  the  first 
political  leader  to  try  to  do  something  about  the  matter. 
The  newly  patented  lands  were  surveyed  and  engineering 
studies  were  begun.   To  validate  the  feasibility  of  such  an 
ambitious  undertaking  Jennings  produced  tables,  charts, 
graphs,  expert  opinions,  and  what  he  later  called  "the 
famous  map."   About  this  document,  he  wrote  "it  served  a 
great  purpose  (for)  it  brought  to  the  attention  of  the 

public  the  whole  situation  of  the  lands  and  incited  keen 


interest."     Napoleon  Broward,  Sherman's  successor,  was  to 


make  the  map  even  more  well  known  during  his  own  guberna- 
torial campaign  of  1904. 

The  legislature  approved  Jennings'  plan,  but  the 
actual  work  of  drainage  and  reclamation  was  not  to  begin 
until  the  year  after  he  left  office.   Few  projects  before 
or  since  have  captured  the  imagination  of  Floridians  as 
did  the  Everglades  drainage  and  reclamation  program.   During 
the  Jennings  administration  not  one  acre  of  public  lands  was 
deeded  to  any  corporation.    As  a  consequence  of  this,  and 
because  of  opposition  to  drainage,  the  railroads  and  cor- 
porations instituted  numerous  suits  against  the  state.   For 
years  these  legal  battles  threatened  to  slow  down  and  even 
halt  the  reclamation  work.   Jennings  acted  as  counsel  for 
the  state  in  many  of  these  suits.   Eventually  Florida's 
ownership  of  the  lands  and  its  right  to  drain,  reclaim,  and 
tax  them  was  upheld  in  the  courts. 

The  high  stakes  involved  in  the  reclamation  of  the 
Everglades  made  it  a  highly  controversial  project.   Most 
people  viewed  it  as  a  wise  undertaking  which  would  conserve 
and  make  productive  a  hitherto  useless  area.   To  those  now 
in  the  ecologically-minded  19  80s  the  plan  appears  naive  and 
misguided,  but  in  1903  it  was  thought  that  only  man's 
ingenuity  prevented  a  useless  swamp  from  becoming  a  "garden 
of  eden."   With  only  a  few  canals  here,  and  a  dike  or  two 
there,  the  Everglades  could  be  made  lush  and  green.   The 
longterm  detrimental  consequences  of  the  project  on  the  land, 


the  animals,  or  the  Indians  were  never  fully  contemplated. 
Few  questioned  the  wisdom  of  the  project.   Floridians  still 
live  with  both  the  positive  and  negative  results  of  the 
great  dream  of  V7illiam  Sherman  Jennings  and  Napoleon  Bona- 
parte Broward. 

May  stood  firmly  behind  her  husband  and  shared  his 
plans  for  the  Everglades.   She  too  visualized  a  land  of 
"milk  and  honey"  springing  out  of  the  swampy  vastness  of 
South  Florida.   For  years  she  had  heard  from  her  father  of 
the  fortunes  and  benefits  that  would  accrue  from  the  drain- 
age of  the  swamplands.   As  early  as  1885  Austin  Mann  had 
toured  South  Florida  in  search  of  a  route  for  a  cross-state 
canal.   May  had  heard  him  describe  the  paradise  that  lay 
below  Kissimmee,  but  it  would  be  years  before  she  would  see 
it  for  herself.   Reclamation  and  conservation  of  the  Ever- 
glades was  an  issue  that  was  to  burn  deep  in  her  heart  and 
mind,  until  she  became  personally  involved  in  the  project. 
Her  natural  affinity  for  nature  and  for  tropical  Florida 
turned  that  involvement  into  a  lifetime  commitment. 

Despite  its  many  accomplishments  the  Jennings  admin- 
istration was  not  without  its  mistakes  or  its  harrowing 
incidents.   Strangely,  most  occurred  during  the  first  few 
months  that  Sherman  and  May  were  in  Tallahassee.   One  of  his 
first  acts  as  governor  was  to  investigate  and  renegotiate  the 
state's  convict-lease  contracts.   The  convict-lease  system 
was  a  deplorable  institution  which  many  progressives  sought 


to  abolish.   But  after  thorough  study  Jennings  became  con- 
vinced that  it  was  the  most  practical  solution  available, 
for  it  meant  that  the  state  would  not  have  to  support  a 
large  and  costly  penal  system.   After  a  study  of  the  prob- 
lems of  convict-lease  Jennings  became  convinced  that  the 
system's  cruel  abuses  could  be  eliminated.   Although  his 
supervisor  of  convicts  wrote  that  the  prisoners  were  in  the 

main  "healthy  and  cheerful,"  others  contradicted  this 

assertion.  "   Jennings  also  felt  that  any  profits  from  the 

system  belonged  to  the  state. 

Under  his  leadership,  the  cabinet,  through  a  series 
of  ploys  and  deft  political  maneuvers,  renegotiated  a  more 
lucrative  contract.   It  brought  to  the  treasury  $148,000 
per  year  for  97  5  convicts,  or  a  more  than  sevenfold  increase 
over  the  previous  amount  received.   The  new  contract  was 
hailed  as  a  great  victory  and  the  governor  as  one  who  had 
"outfoxed"  the  state's  omnipotent  phosphate  companies.   Not 
everyone  viewed  it  as  a  victory,  however,  for  progressives 
were  disappointed  that  an  entirely  new  penal  system  had  not 
been  established.   The  whole  episode  is  examined  by  Gordon 
Carper  in  his  study  of  the  Florida  convict-lease  system. 
In  a  chapter  entitled  "Crime  for  Profit"  he  cautiously 
commends  Governor  Jennings'  actions,  but  states  that  "unfor- 
tunately he  achieved  economy  at  the  expense  of  the  convicts.' 
He  also  notes  that  the  inhumane  practices  of  the  system 


continued,  despite  the  good  intentions  of  the  Jennings 

Probably  the  most  controversial  event  of  Jennings' 
term  was  the  passage  of  the  "Flagler  Divorce  Bill."   Henry 
Flagler's  second  wife  was  confined  to  a  New  York  insane 
asylum.   Flagler  tolerated  the  situation  for  some  years 
until  19  00.   Determined  to  marry  Mary  Kenan,  a  young  and 
vivacious  North  Carolina  belle  with  whom  he  had  fallen  in 
love,  he  decided  to  do  something  about  the  matter.   First 
he  transferred  his  legal  residence  from  New  York  to  Florida. 
Then  he  got  supporters  in  the  1901  legislature  to  introduce 
a  bill  making  incurable  insanity  grounds  for  divorce.   The 
bill  caused  an  immediate  sensation  across  the  state. 

Politicians,  clergymen,  and  newspapers  took  up  sides. 
Charges  and  countercharges  were  exchanged.   There  were 
rumors  that  Flagler  had  paid  off  the  legislature.   Even 
Jennings  was  said  to  be  in  Flagler's  pocket.   The  state's 
Baptists  were  enraged  and  issued  a  call-to-arms .   The 
governor,  a  trustee  of  Stetson  University  and  Florida's 
most  prominent  Baptist,  was  bitterly  criticized  by  pulpit 
and  press  for  supporting  and  signing  the  bill.   It  was 
charged  that  Flagler  had  used  his  great  wealth  in  the  19  00 
state  convention  to  secure  the  nomination  for  Jennings  in 
return  for  Sherman's  support  of  the  bill.   It  was  a  serious 
charge.   That  Jennings  knew  Flagler  was  well  known,  but 
there  is  no  evidence  to  substantiate  these  contentions. 


The  question  remains,  however,  as  to  why  the  governor,  a 
staunch  Baptist  churchman,  supported  such  an  unpopular  and 
morally  controversial  law.   Flagler  got  his  divorce,  the 
bill  was  later  repealed,  and  the  governor  suffered  the 
consequences  for  his  actions.  The  affair  made  enemies  for 
him;  his  Baptist  brethren  remembered  his  involvement  the 
next  time  he  ran  for  public  office. 

On  May  3,  19  01,  the  greatest  conflagration  ever  to 
strike  a  Florida  city  occurred  when  a  large  section  of 
Jacksonville,  the  state's  largest  city,  burned  to  the 
ground.   When  news  of  the  calamity  reached  Tallahassee  the 
governor  and  his  staff  quickly  responded.   Martial  law  was 
declared,  and  by  afternoon  of  that  same  day  a  special  train 
with  state  troops,  newsmen,  officials,  and  Jacksonville's 
legislative  delegation  aboard   was  dispatched  to  the  still 
burning  city.   More  than  100  blocks  of  the  city's  business 

and  residential  area  was  gutted.   Some  2,368  buildings  had 

been  destroyed,  and  thousands  of  citizens  were  homeless. 

May  Jennings  remembered  the  tragedy  with  "sadness  and 

recalled  the  soup  kitchens  and  emergency  establishments" 

2  8 
that  were  hastily  erected. 

The  governor  visited  Jacksonville  to  inspect  the 

damage  and  review  the  troops.   His  quick  response  to  the 

emergency  was  noted  but  some  criticized  the  small  amount 

of  financial  aid  he  had  sent  to  the  city.   Damage  had 


exceeded  $15,000,000;  state  aid  totaled  only  $20,000.   Hun- 
dreds of  thousands  of  dollars  were  donated  to  the  city  by 
people  throughout  the  United  States. 

On  December  17,  19  03,  the  governor,  while  working 
quietly  in  his  office,  narrowly  escaped  a  potential  assassin's 
attack.   An  escaped  inmate  from  a  Georgia  asylum  had  some- 
how traveled  to  Tallahassee,  and  entered  the  Capitol  build- 
ing undetected.   Suddenly  he  appeared  in  the  governor's 
suite  screaming  that  he  needed  protection  from  pursuing 
persecutors.   Growing  wild  with  rage  he  made  a  dash  for 
the  governor,  but  secretary  Dickinson  was  able  to  close  the 
door  to  the  inner  office,  and  he  wrestled  the  distraught 

man  to  the  floor  while  others  summoned  help.   Jennings  was 


shaken  but  unharmed. 

The  Jennings  spent  four  busy  years  in  Tallahassee. 
When  the  legislature  was  not  in  session  activities  in  the 
capital  city  slowed  down  considerably.   Dickinson  once 

wrote  at  one  of  those  times  that,  "everything  is  as  dull 

as  can  be  here."     Gubernatorial  duties  in  those  years 

were  cyclical  and  limited,  Jennings  concentrated  on  non- 
critical  state  business  and  on  his  own  law  practice  during 
the  months  that  the  legislature  was  not  in  session.   May, 
whose  energy  seemed  limitless,  remained  active  and  involved 
however  sluggish  life  in  Tallahassee  became.   There  was  much 
to  demand  her  attention,  particularly  Bryan,  who  was  attend- 
ing Miss  Ame's  private  academy.   May  chaired  a  committee 


to  raise  money  for  a  new  sanctuary  for  the  Baptist  church. 
There  was  also  her  own  personal  and  official  correspondence, 
and  activities  connected  with  her  duties  as  First  Lady. 
There  was  upkeep  of  the  rented  mansion,  supervision  of  the 
Brooksville  homestead,  as  well  as  daily  shopping,  sewing, 
gardening,  and  cooking.   There  was  also  her  own  wardrobe 
which  required  attention.   She  always  wore  stylish  clothes. 
She  had  a  favorite  dressmaker  who  resided  in  St.  Augustine 
and  served  the  affluent  winter  tourists.   A  milliner  by 
trade,  this  lady  kept  May  posted  about  the  latest  styles. 
She  was  also  a  friend  and  offered  what  she  called  "pearls 

of  wisdom."   Once  she  wrote  the  first  lady:  "hats  are  like 


husbands,  they  need  to  be  selected  with  great  care."  "   May 

loved  the  woman  dearly  and  often  lent  her  money  to  help  her 
through  slack  periods  in  dressmaking. 

May  had  to  oversee  the  governor's  official  entertain- 
ing which  was  considerable  during  the  Jennings  years.   She 
was  responsible  for  several  tours  de  force  in  entertaining 
which  garnered  statewide  comment.   The  first  was  an  elaborate 
dinner  party  which  the  Jennings  gave  in  19  01  in  honor  of 
the  cabinet,  and  which  established  her  reputation  in  Talla- 
hassee as  a  gracious  and  creative  hostess.   The  Daily 
Capitol  reported  that  the  dinner,  given  at  the  Leon  and 
attended  by  seventeen  people,  was  the  "first  time  in  the 
history  of  the  capital  that  the  cabinet  had  been  so  feted." 
The  paper  called  it  "one  of  the  most  enjoyable  social 


functions  ever  given  in  Tallahassee,  a  notable  feature  (was) 
the  absence  of  formality,  and  the  atmosphere  of  cordiality 

and  geniality  which  the  accomplished  hostess  so  success- 


fully  imparted  to  the  occasion." 

Even  the  food  served  at  the  dinner  was  noteworthy; 
it  too  made  the  front  page  of  the  newspaper.   The  elaborate 
menu  included,  "Apalachicola  oysters,  creme  of  fowl,  consomme 
pretiniere,  celery  and  olives,  broiled  lake  trout  in  drawn 
butter  sauce,  saddle  of  venison  with  mushrooms,  french  peas, 
asparagus  tips,  roast  turkey  with  stuffing  and  cranberry 
sauce,  creamed  potatoes,  chicken  salad,  vanilla  ice  cream, 

assorted  cakes,  fruit,  cheese,  crackers,  mixed  nuts,  and 

coffee."  ~   The  dinner  proved  a  gastronomic  delight;  people 

talked  about  it  for  weeks. 

On  their  twelfth  wedding  anniversary  in  1903,  the 
Jennings  gave  a  reception  in  honor  of  the  legislature,  that 
was  then  in  session.   The  following  day's  newspaper  head- 
lines noted,  "Governor's  Reception  a  Brilliant  Function- 
Elite  of  Tallahassee  in  Attendance. "     Over  500  people 
attended,  and  several  times  during  the  evening  there  was 
"a  jam  of  carriages"  in  front  of  the  Jennings'  residence. 
The  mansion  was  beautifully  decorated:  "The  veranda  was 
ablaze  with  electric  lights  in  the  national  colors  of  red, 
white  and  blue  and  was  screened  in  with  national  flags  .  .  . 
palms  and  yellow  flowers  occupied  places  in  every  nook 
and  corner  of  the  house  and  vines  entwined  around  windows, 


arches  and  doorways."     Each  room  of  the  house  was  deco- 
rated in  a  different  color.   The  governor's  study,  which 
served  as  the  ice  cream  parlor,  was  festooned  in  pink!   A 
local  orchestra  provided  music,  and  each  guest  was  present- 
ed with  a  favor,  a  miniature  American  flag,  upon  his 
departure.   The  news  reporter  commented  upon  the  handsome 
gowns  worn  by  May  and  Grace  and  stated  that  "there  was  abso- 
lutely no  formality  about  the  function,  and  all  guests  spent 
a  most  delightful  time." 

Not  all  of  the  Jennings'  entertainments  were  elab- 
orate.   The  family  also  enjoyed  picnics  and  playing  ping- 
pong,  and  card  games  such  as  crazy  eights  and  hearts.   They 
often  read  aloud  to  one  another,  and  joined  in  parlor 
"sing  alongs."   May  enjoyed  music  and  was  proud  of  her 
singing  ability.   Music  played  an  important  role  in  the 
Jennings  household. 

Once  a  week  May  and  Bryan  went  buggy  riding.   They 
often  rode  with  Sarah  Lamar,  wife  of  the  attorney  general, 
or  with  Colonel  C.W.  Walker,  a  family  friend.   When  riding 
alone  they  toured  the  city  and  countryside  in  a  "victoria 
and  span"  drawn  by  white  horses.   May  is  remembered  on  these 
rides  as  always  being  modishly  dressed  and  sporting  a  para- 

The  records  do  not  show  that  May  participated  in 
formal  clubwork  while  living  in  Tallahassee,  although  she 
may  have  helped  organize  the  local  woman's  club,  for  the 


Tallahassee  Improvement  Association  was  established  shortly- 
after  the  Jennings  arrived  in  the  city  in  19  01.   Organized 
by  local  women,  it  wanted  to  beautify  the  community  by 
cleaning  up  the  parks,  sidewalks,  and  streets.   By  1903,  its 
successor,  the  Tallahassee  Woman's  Club,  had  become  involved 
in  more  important  civic  matters.   It  wanted  the  state  to 
build  or  purchase  a  home  for  the  governor  and  his  family, 
and  it  became  an  outspoken  opponent  of  the  local  educational 
establishment.   It  endorsed  the  creation  of  a  graded  high 
school  with  a  modern  and  comprehensive  curricula,  to  replace 
Leon  Academy,  which  had  served  the  town  for  over  a  genera- 
tion.  The  local  paper  wryly  noted  that,  "there  is  a  woman's 
club  in  Tallahassee,  and  judging  by  the  way  in  which  they 
haul  the  local  school  board  over  the  coals  the  club  doesn't 

exist  merely  for  the  purpose  of  discussing  social  events 

and  fashions."     It  later  added  that  "the  ladies  are 

3  8 
aroused  (but)  the  school  board  ignores  them. "     Their  per- 
sistence, however,  eventually  won  out  and  Tallahassee's 
school  system  was  reformed. 

Apparently  May  considered  it  impolitic  to  belong  to 
such  an  outspoken  organization,  and  she  took  no  public 
stand  on  issues.   Judged  by  her  later  battles,  however, 
she  probably  supported  the  ladies'  goals.   She  did  oversee 
a  special  beautif ication  project  of  her  own.   The  renovation 
and  improvement  of  the  Capitol  was  completed  late  in  1902. 
From  January  until  April  the  following  year  she  supervised 


the  landscaping  of  the  building's  grounds.   Rye  grass  was 
sown,  paths  marked  out,  and  flowering  shrubs  and  trees 

planted  in  time  for  the  legislative  session.   Some  of  the 

local  women  aided  in  the  work.     She  also  helped  decorate 

the  Capitol  for  the  dedication  in  December.   At  that  func- 
tion a  banquet  was  served  in  the  House  chamber,  while  a  ball 
was  held  in  the  Senate  chamber.   May  also  decorated  the 
governor's  new  offices.   The  suite  included  a  reception  room, 
secretary's  office,  and  the  governor's  office.   There  were 
new  tables,  settees,  chairs,  bookcases,  desks,  file  cabinets, 
umbrella  racks,  wardrobes,  and  nine  brass  cuspidors.   The 
furniture  was  mahogany  and  massive.   The  governor's  rolltop 
desk  was  sixteen  feet  long. 

The  Jennings  traveled  extensively  but  tried  to 
spend  their  holidays  in  Brooksville.   In  February  1901  they 
made  an  official  trip  to  Pensacola  to  participate  in  Mardi 
Gras  festivities  which  coincided  with  a  visit  by  the  United 
States  Navy's  North  Atlantic  Squadron.   There  were  dinners, 
a  parade,  and  a  ball  held  in  honor  of  the  visitors.   While 
the  governor  conferred  with  Admiral  N.H.  Farquahar  and 
Secretary  of  the  Navy  John  D.  Long  about  Florida's  naval 
defenses,  May  was  feted  at  the  home  of  Mrs.  William  D. 
Chipley.   This  pattern  was  to  be  repeated  many  times.   Whether 
traveling      alone  or  with  her  husband,  May  usually 
received  special  attention  from  the  local  ladies.   Thus 
she  was  able,  in  four  years,  to  meet  most  of  the  prominent 


women  in  Florida  and  to  build-up  a  network  of  statewide 
friendships  which  would  prove  helpful  to  her  future  work. 

The  Jennings  received  many  invitations  to  attend 
state,  regional,  and  national  meetings.   While  most  of  them 
had  to  be  refused,  they  did  manage  to  attend  a  large  number 
of  functions.   Except  in  rare  cases,  May  almost  always 
traveled  with  her  husband.   The  events  the  Jennings  attend- 
ed revealed  their  wide  range  of  interests:  the  launching 
of  the  U.S.S.  Florida  at  Elizabeth,  New  Jersey,  in  1901; 
the  1901  Tammany  Society's  July  4th  lecture  series  in  New 
York  City;  Florida  Bar  Association  conventions;  Florida 
Press  Association  conventions;  Florida  State  Horticultural 
Society  meetings;  the  annual  Florida  Baptist  convention;  the 
1902  California  State  Fair  in  San  Francisco;  the  Southern 
Turpentine  Association  convention;  Florida  Education  Asso- 
ciation convention;  Florida  State  Fair  (May  served  on  the 
Fair's  woman's  board);  St.  Louis  World's  Fair;  and  the 
National  Good  Roads  Association  convention  in  New  York.  In 
1904  Jennings  and  his  father-in-law  attended  the  second 
official  automobile  races  on  the  beach  at  Daytona.   The 
Governor  spoke  at  the  Good  Roads  Convention  which  was  held 
in  conjunction  with  the  races.   Austin,  who  had  attended  the 
first  race  in  1903,  was  an  officer  in  both  the  Good  Roads 
organization  and  the  Florida  East  Coast  Automobile  Associa- 
tion, which  sponsored  the  races.   Returning  from  the  event 


the  two  stopped  in  St.  Augustine  and  had  their  picture 

taken  together. 

In  addition  to  these  travels  the  Jennings  attended 
scores  of  Democratic  party  functions,  political  rallies, 
high  school  and  college  commencement  exercises,  and  various 
minor  civic  events.   The  state  legislature  was  still  meeting 
only  once  every  two  years  and  the  governor's  duties  were 
such  that  in  19  01  he  could  travel,  conduct  private  business, 
lead  an  active  social  life,  and  still  have  time  to  carry  on 
his  responsibilities  as  chief  executive.   May  enjoyed 
traveling,  and  later  in  her  statewide  clubwork  she  would 
travel  thousands  of  miles  in  the  performance  of  official 
duties.   Extensive  traveling  was  a  natural  part  of  her  life 
style;  "living  out  of  a  suitcase"  never  seemed  to  bother 

Two  trips  the  Jennings  took  were  especially  important 
and  interesting.   In  September  1901  they  traveled  by  train 
with  a  number  of  Floridians  to  the  Pan-American  Exhibition 
in  Buffalo,  New  York.   The  fair  which  had  received  world 
wide  publicity  featured  exhibits  from  all  the  states  and 

countries  in  the  Western  hemisphere.   It  was  located  on 

a  350-acre  site  outside  the  city.     The  Jennings  had  come 

to  participate  in  "Florida  day"  activities  and  to  officially 

open  the  Florida  exhibit,  which  was  housed  in  a  booth  built 

to  resemble  a  palmetto  hut  having  beams  and  girders  draped 


with  Spanish  moss. 


The  gaiety  of  the  event  was  dampened,  for  in  a  house 
near  the  fairgrounds,  President  McKinley  lay  dying,  the 
victim  of  an  assassin's  bullet.   The  President  had  been 
shot  while  touring  the  fair  only  a  few  days  prior  to  the 
Jennings  arrival.   McKinley ' s  deteriorating  condition  had 
thrown  the  country  into  a  state  of  melancholy  and  had  cast 
a  pall  over  the  Exhibition.   Despite  the  somberness  of  the 
occasion,  the  Jennings  paid  their  respects  at  the  president's 
residence,  and  then  were  accorded  the  honor  of  being  shown 
the  fairgrounds  in  a  "horseless  carriage,"  a  privilege 
reserved  for  only  the  most  distinguished  guests. 

In  the  spring  of  19  02  the  Jennings  were  among  the 
official  party  at  ceremonies  in  Havana  at  which  Cuban  inde- 
pendence was  formally  recognized.   Since  the  end  of  the 
Spanish- American  War  the  island  had  been  under  the  juris- 
diction of  the  United  States.   In  1902  that  relationship 
ended,  and  Cuba  was  declared  a  free  republic.   The  geographic 
proximity  of  Florida  and  Cuba  and  the  fact  that  there  had 
been  close  ties  for  centuries   was  a  major  reason  why 
Florida's  chief  executive  was  chosen  to  represent  the  United 
States  at  the  ceremonies.   In  addition  to  Sherman,  May, 
their  son  Bryan,  Grace,  and  a  number  of  Washington  digni- 
taries, the  official  party  also  included  William  Jennings 
Bryan,  who  traveled  as  a  correspondent  for  the  news  magazine, 
Colliers'  Weekly.   The  visitors  were  feted  to  a  tour  of  the 
city,  an  elaborate  banquet,  a  fancy  dress  ball,  a  jai  alai 


game,  a  fireworks  display,  and  a  yacht  club  breakfast.   On 
May  20,  19  02,  at  an  impressive  ceremony  at  Moro  Castle, 
with  guns  saluting,  soldiers  standing  at  attention,  and  a 

band  playing  anthems,  the  forty-five  star  American  flag  was 

lowered  and  the  new  flag  of  Cuba  was  raised.     The  American 

flag  was  presented  to  May.   She  cherished  it  for  many  years. 
The  Jennings  once  received  an  invitation  from  Profes- 
sor E.  Warren  Clark,  who  lived  outside  of  Tallahassee  on 
the  old  Croom  plantation,  Casa  de  Laga.   The  property  occu- 
pied a  thousand  acres  on  a  bend  along  the  shoreline  of  Lake 
Jackson.   Clark  had  turned  it  into  a  successful  dairy  farm 
and  had  renamed  the  place  Shidzuoka.   Clark  was  respected 
but  was  considered  a  bit  eccentric.   He  was  described  as  a 

man  who  "farmed  with  imagination  and  whose  personality 

added  color  to  life  along  the  west  shore  of  Lake  Jackson." 

A  neighbor  remembered  that  "the  bespectacled  Professor 

frequently  peddled  his  bike  along  old  Bainbridge  Road  and 

that  he  occasionally  held  elaborate  celebrations  at  Shid- 

zouka."     Two  of  these  celebrations  involved  the  Jennings. 

The  first  was  an  elegant  garden  party  on  the  plantation's 
spacious  lawn  beneath  a  grove  of  stately  oak  trees,  held  in 
honor  of  Sherman's  inauguration.   The  Jennings  and  cabinet 
officials  attended. 

Professor  Clark  was  a  kind-hearted  man  and  was  dedi- 
cated to  the  advancement  of  blacks.   Periodically  he  held 
a  day-long  entertainment  for  Leon  County's  ex-slaves,  to 


celebrate  May  20th,  Florida's  Emancipation  day.47   Clark, 
who  came  from  a  New  England  background,  did  not  endear  him- 
self to  Leon  County  whites  by  holding  these  celebrations, 
but  they  tolerated  them.   The  professor  meant  well  and  felt 
that  he  was  helping  the  blacks.   They,  in  turn,  enjoyed 
his  parties  and  looked  forward  to  them  with  anticipation. 
Professor  Clark  expressed  the  accepted  liberal  attitude  of 
the  day.   He  viewed  the  former  slaves  as  children  who  needed 
whites  to  protect  them,  educate  them,  and  save  their  souls. 
Later  his  brand   of  liberalism  would  seem  patently  condes- 
cending, patronizing,  and  offensive,  but  in  1901  it  repre- 
sented the  most  enlightened  attitude  that  white  liberals 
could  bring  to  the  racial  question. 

In  19  01  he  invited  Governor  and  Mrs.  Jennings  to  his 
next  celebration.   He  wrote,  "Next  Monday  is  Emancipation 
Day.   Sixteen  years  or  more  ago  I  gave  a  grand  entertain- 
ment here  at  Lake  Jackson  for  the  Colored  People,  nearly  a 
thousand  of  them  came,  and  I  invited  Governor  Perry  out  here 
to  spend  the  night  and   address  the  Colored  People,  which  he 
did.   Could  you  drive  out?   After  a  five  minute  address  to 
your  'colored  constituents'  we  could  show  you  immense 
stereocopticon  views.   This  time  our  subject  is  'Types  of 
Colored  Races  of  the  World. '   The  illustrations  will  include 
the  native  Hawaiians,  Filipinos,  Chinese,  Japanese,  Singa- 
lese,  Hindoos,  Brahmins,  Mohammedans,  ancient  Egyptians,  and 
Ethiopians  ...  a  dense  Black  Crowd  would  listen  to  you  and 


such  a  little  visit  would  do  a  great  deal  of  good."     The 

professor,  who  apparently  thought  all  non-whites  were  Negroes, 

concluded  his  invitation  with  the  information  that  he  was 

at  that  very  minute  writing  a  new  book  entitled  "Uncle 

Tom's  Cabin  Up  to  Date"! 

Professor  Clark  held  his  May  20th  celebration  as 
planned.   Over  1,000  blacks  attended,  many  traveling  long 
distances  to  get  to  the  plantation.   Almost  all  were  dressed 
in  their  best  Sunday  attire.   There  was  food,  hymn  singing, 
lectures,  "music  by  phonograph"  and  the  much  anticipated 
stereocopticon  show  of  "types  of  colored  races."   Part  of 
the  day's  entertainment  was  described  by  the  local  news- 
paper.  It  seems  that  "Dr.  Wa-hoo-chee,  an  Indian  lecturer 
and  exhibiter,  assisted  Professor  Clark.  .  .  .   Wa-hoo-chee 
whose  Indian  ancestors  once  roamed  over  (Florida's)  'happy 
hunting  grounds'  was  photographed  with  his  squaw  and  his 
dog  in  full  Indian  war  costume,  with  tomahawk  in  one  hand 
and  open  Bible  in  the  other.  .  .  .   When  the  Indian  presented 
his  passion  play  to  the  colored   people  the  scene  of  Lazarus 
arising  from  the  dead  and  Christ  himself  unshrouding  his 
risen  body  affected  the  emotional  nature  of  the  colored 

people  so  that  some  of  them  cried  out  as  if  Christ  were 

actually  before  them. "     It  is  not  known  if  the  Jennings 

accepted  Clark's  invitation  and  attended  the  celebration. 

In  1903  Sherman  began  to  give  serious  thought  to  his 

political  future.   For  over  a  year  he  had  assessed  the 


feasibility  of  running  for  a  higher  office.   In  1902  there 
had  been  rumors  that  he  would  become  a  "dark  horse"  candi- 
date for  vice-president  on  the  national  Democratic  ticket. 
There  was  also  speculation  that  he  would  run  for  Congress. 
The  voters  waited  for  an  announcement.   Finally  in  August 
1903,  he  declared  his  intentions;  he  would  enter  the  1904 
primary  and  seek  a  seat  in  the  United  States  Senate.   To 
his  supporters  his  gubernatorial  record  made  him  an  unbeat- 
able candidate.   More  astute  observers,  however,  were  not  so 
optimistic.   He  had  waited  too  long  to  announce  his  candi- 
dacy, and  he  would  be  running  against  a  popular  and  power- 
ful incumbent. 

Senator  James  P.  Taliaferro  would  be  a  formidable 
opponent.   He  was  a  conservative  Democrat  who  came  from  a 
wealthy  Jacksonville  family.   In  addition  John  N.C.  Stockton, 
also  from  Duval  County,  and  a  protege  of  Napoleon  Broward, 
was  a  candidate.   By  waiting  so  long  to  declare  his  inten- 
tions Jennings'  campaign  lost  momentum  before  it  ever  really 
got  started.   From  the  beginning  of  the  race  he  was  the 
"underdog. " 

Although  his  record  as  governor  was  impressive  and 
he  was  well-liked  by  most  Floridians,  he  had  angered  many 
in  the  party  by  some  of  his  decisions  as  governor.   Also, 
his  manner  was  quiet  and  reserved.   Many  felt  that  he  lacked 
the  charisma  and  personality  required  to  win  a  wide-open 
primary  race.   To  the  voters  he  did  not  appear  to  have  the 


strong  temperament  or  the  toughness  that  Floridians   thought 
their  senator  should  have.   In  addition  he  was  faced  with 
the  added  burden  of  having  to  justify  his  candidacy  to  his 
follow  Democrats.   Why,  they  asked,  did  he  dilute  the 
liberal  challenge  to  Taliaferro  by  making  the  primary  a 
three-way  race?   Wasn't  Stockton  as  much  a  liberal  as  he? 
Indeed,  one  historian  has  stated  that  even   "the  voters 
were  inclined  to  regard  Stockton  as  a  more  sincere  liberal 
than  Jennings." 

The  three  candidates  attended  the  state  Democratic 
convention  at  Punta  Gorda,  where  a  large  rally  was  held  to 
kick  off  the  campaign.   Each  was  called  upon  to  speak. 
Jennings  supporters  must  have  realized  their  candidate  was 
in  trouble  when  it  was  reported  that,  "The  Governor  has  not 
yet  forsaken  free  silver,  and  his  bold  declaration  of  con- 
tinued affiliation  with  a  dead  issue  was  not  unnoticed  by 

his  hearers  (who)  regard  (him)  as  a  third  party. "     From 

that  time  onward  the  Jennings  campaign  seemed  to  go  from 
bad  to  worse.   The  primary  proved  to  be  bitter  and  vitriolic. 
Charges,  counter-charges,  and  mud-slinging  became  the  rule 
rather  than  the  exception.   At  times  Jennings  seemed  over- 
whelmed by  the  bitter  attacks,  but  he  made  a  gallant  effort 
to  bypass  personalities  and  campaign  on  the  issues. 

May  worked  hard  to  reverse  the  trend.   Again  she 
was  in  charge  of  the  campaign  paperwork.   She  supervised 
a  statewide  mailing  and  publicity  operation,  and  she 


organized  the  Governor's  speaking  tour.   Her  formal  title 

was  "Chairman  of  the  Jennings'  Campaign  Committee  on  Public- 


lty   and  Promotion."     She  was  also  president  of  the  Talla- 
hassee Jennings  club.   Despite  her  efforts  and  a  valiant 
speaking  tour  in  which  Sherman  tried  to  present  himself  as 
a  forceful,  dynamic  leader,  he  and  May  knew  that  they  were 
fighting  an  "uphill  battle."   The  primary  election  returns 
showed  just  how  difficult  the  battle  had  been.   Sherman 
trailed  far  behind  both  of  the  other  candidates  and  was 
eliminated  from  the  race.   May  was  disappointed  by  her  hus- 
band's defeat  but  remained  smiling  and  spirited  in  her 
public  appearances.   Sherman  was  more  philosophical  about 
his  defeat,  and  seemed  almost  relieved  that  the  ordeal  was 
behind  him.   He  threw  his  support  to  Broward,  who  was  run- 
ning for  governor,  and  then  set  about  making  plans  for  the 

The  Jennings   faced  several  options.   They  could 
return  to  Brooksville  where  Sherman  would  resume  his  law 
practice.   He  could  try  for  another  public  office,  or   he 
could  accept  one  of  the  offers  of  employment  that  v/ere 
being  tendered  to  him.   In  November  19  04  the     Governor 
made  his  decision.   He  had  received  a  lucrative  offer  which 
he  felt  he  could  not  refuse.   A  new  financial  institution, 
purported  to  be  the  state's  largest,  was  being  formed  and 
he  had  been  offered  a  vice-presidency  of  it  and  a  handsome 
retainer  to  act  as  the  firm's  legal  counsel.   Sherman  and 


May  would  move  to  Jacksonville.   For  May  the  move  was  to 
prove  fortunate  for  it  would  place  her  in  the  state's  larg- 
est  city,  in  the  best  location  for  her  to  pursue  her 
avocations  of  club  and  civic  work.   May  would  make  her  mark 
in  Jacksonville. 


Notes  to  Chapter  IV 

Unidentified  newspaper  clipping,  October  18,  1901. 
WSJ  Papers,  Box  9. 


Proctor,  Broward ,  p.  174. 


The  Weekly  Tallahassean,  January  10,  1901. 

Ibid. ,  January  17,  1901. 


Lake  City  Citizen-Reporter ,  January  11,  1901. 

7  .  . 

The  handwritten  original  copy  of  the  address  is  in 

the  possession  of  Dorothy  Jennings  Sandridge. 


The  Weekly  Tallahassean,  January  10,  1901. 


Norton  Kealthly  to  William  S.  Jennings,  February  4, 
1901.   WSJ  Papers,  Box  8. 

Jacksonville  Florida  Times-Union,  July  10,  1955. 


The  Weekly  Tallahassean,  January  10,  19  01. 

13Ibid. ,  October  25,  1901. 

Ibid. ,  August  1,  1902. 


Interview  with  Dorothy  Brown  Jennings,  July  27, 

1978.   Penney  Farms,  Florida. 

Blackman,  The  Women  of  Florida,  II,  p.  92. 


Eustis  Lake  Region,  September  5,  1901. 


Florida  Legislative  Directory  1903  (Tallahassee, 

1903) ,  p.  43. 

Elizabeth  Bell  Hightower  to  author,  July  2,  197  8. 


For  an  assessment  of  William  S.  Jennings'  guberna- 
torial abilities  see  Colburn  and  Scher,  "Florida  Gubernatorial 
Politics,"  unpublished  MS.   In  possession  of  authors,  Uni- 
versity of  Florida,  Gainesville,  Florida. 



For  an  overview  of  the  public  land  policies  see 

J.E.  Dovell,  "The  Railroads  and  the  Public  Lands  of  Florida, 
1879-1905,"  Florida  Historical  Quarterly,  XXXIV,  January 
1956,  pp.  236-258. 


William  S.  Jennings,  "Florida's  Public  Lands," 

Legislative  Bluebook,  1917,  p.  50. 

23Ibid. ,  p.  54. 


R.F.  Rogers  to  William  S.  Jennings,  April  1901. 

WSJ  Papers,  Box  8. 


Gordon  N.  Carper,  "The  Convict-Lease  System  in 

Florida,  1866-1923"  (Ph.D.  dissertation,  Florida  State 

University,  1964),  p.  186. 


Photographs  of  Jennings  and  Flagler  together  are  in 

possession  of  Dorothy  Jennings  Sandridge. 


Benjamin  Harrison,  Acres  of  Ashes  (Jacksonville, 

1901) ,  passim. 

2  8 

Jacksonville  Florida  Times-Union,  July  10,  1955. 


New  York  American,  December  18,  1902. 

C.H.  Dickinson  to  William  S.  Jennings,  June  11, 
1901.   WSJ  Papers,  Box  9. 


Mary  Wakefield  to  May  Jennings,  September,  19  01. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  1. 


The  Daily  Capital,  December  5,  1901. 

34Ibid. ,  May  13,  1903. 



The  Weekly  Tallahassean,  July  17,  1903. 

3  8 

Ibid. ,  August  7,  1903. 


Alice  Strickland,  "Florida's  Golden  Age  of  Racing," 

Florida  Historical  Quarterly,  XXXXV,  January,  1967,  p.  259. 



Florida  School  Exponent,  v.  VIII,  No.  4,  December 
1900,  p.  6. 


Daytona  Gazette-News,  June  22,  1901. 



Jacksonville  Florida  Times-Union, September  13, 

43  , 

El  Figaro,  XVIII,  June,  1902. 


The  Moro  Castle  flag  is  in  the  possession  of 

Dorothy  Jennings  Sandridge. 


Clifton  Paisley,  From  Cotton  to  Quail:  An  Agricul- 
tural Chronicle  of  Leon  County,  Florida,  1860-1967  (Gaines- 
ville,  1968) ,  p.  75.  " 


Ibid. ,  p.  76. 


For  a  description  of  May  20th  Emancipation  Day 

celebrations  see  Susan  Bradford  Eppes,  The  Negro  of  the  Old 

South  (Chicago,  1925),  p.  115. 


E.  Warren  Clark  to  William  S.  Jennings,  May,  19  01. 

WSJ  Papers,  Box  9. 



The  Weekly  Tallahassean,  May  23,  1901. 


Proctor,  Broward,  p.  189. 


Unidentified  newspaper  clipping,  August  25,  1903. 

Jennings  Scrapbook  No.  2,  WSJ  Papers. 


Letterhead  on  Campaign  stationery,  November,  1903. 

WSJ  Papers,  Box  16. 


The  move  to  Jacksonville  proved  the  right  decision 
for  the  Jennings  family.   In  1905  the  city's  population  was 
nearly  40,000.   As  the  state's  industrial  and  financial 
capital  it  had  an  active  civic  and  social  life  and  a  good 
school  system.   Bryan  Jennings  would  graduate  from  Duval 
High  School  and  attend  Stetson  University  where  he  would 
acquire  a  law  degree.   Grace  Mann  continued  to  live  with 
the  Jennings.   She  attended   Wesleyan  College  in  Macon, 
Georgia,  and  in  1910  married  John  M.  Bell,  a  Jacksonville 

The  first  years  in  Jacksonville  Governor  Jennings 
solidified  the  family's  finances.    He  became  a  vice- 
president  of  the  Florida  Bank  and  Trust.   He  bought  stock 
in  the  Barnes- Jessup  Naval  Stores  Company,  and  he  acquired 
extensive  real  estate  holdings.    He  developed  a  law  prac- 
tice which  became  so  large  that  eventually  he  took  on  Bryan, 
his  son,  and  Benjamin  F.  Brass,  as  junior  partners.   The 
Jennings  firm  was  located  in  the  Dyal-Upchurch  building  on 
Bay  Street. 

The  first  two  years  in  the  city  the  Jennings  lived 
in  rented  homes,  including  the  Meunart  House  at  12  9  East 
7th  Street.   In  1907  the  family  moved  into  their  own  house 



which  they  built  on  the  corner  of  Main  and  Seventh  streets 
in  Springfield,  which  lay  north  of  Hogan ' s  Creek  and  which 
contained  some  of  the  city's  most  elegant  residences.   When 
the  Jennings  home  was  built  the  area  was  out  in  the  country 
beyond  the  city  limits.   The  trolley,  which  ran  down  tracks 
in  the  center  of  a  landscaped  esplanade  on  Main  street,  made 
a  U-turn  near  the  Jennings  home,  which  at  the  time  was  the 
end  of  the  line. 

The  Jennings  house  was  one  of  the  largest  in  north 

Jacksonville.   Two-story  and  frame,  it  cost  $6,000  to 

buxld--an  impressive  sum  in  19  07.    It  had  twelve  rooms 

including  eight  upstairs  bedrooms.   On  the  first  floor  there 

were  a  large  entrance  hall,  parlor,  dining  room,  and  a 

kitchen.   The  house  had  "broad  airy  porches  on  both  the 

first  and  second  floors,  front  and  rear."    There  was  a 

large  stable  at  the  rear  of  the  property  which  was  later 
converted  into  a  garage.   Inside,  the  house  had  grain  edge 
pine  flooring,  curley  pine  doors,  chandeliers,  leaded  glass 
windows,  and  a  mahogany  staircase.   The  furniture--oak, 
ebony,  and  mahogany — was  large,  in  the  style  of  the  time. 
There  was  a  piano  in  the  parlor  and  the  governor's  desk,  a 
magnificent  roll-top  affair  of  burl  and  mahogany,  was  promi- 
nently displayed.   The  desk, which  had  been  a  parting  gift 

from  his  cabinet,  carried  a  brass  placque  with  their  names 

and  the  dates  of  the  Jennings  administration.    Linens 

used  in  the  house  were  all  hand  embroidered  by  May  and 

carried  the  family  monogram. 


Austin  Mann  wrote  his  daughter  when  she  moved  into 
her  new  home  that,  "God  has  sure  been  good  to  you."    Provi- 
dence soon  blessed  Mann  also  for  he  too  built  a  new  home. 
This  house,  even  larger  than  his  daughter's,  was  an  elegant 
structure  which  he  named  "Olivewood. "   It  was  located  on 
the  northwest  corner  of  Silver  and  Eleventh  streets  only  a 
few  blocks  from  the  Jennings  home. 

Soon  after  moving  into  her  new  home  May  planted 
trees,  flowers,  and  gardens.   The  grounds,  while  not  spa- 
cious, were  tastefully  landscaped.   Gardening  was  one  of 
May  Jennings'  favorite  activities.   Her  appreciation  of  the 
outdoors  and  the  beauties  of  nature  continued  throughout 
her  life.   She  was  especially  fond  of  flowers  such  as  roses, 
hollyhocks,  snapdragons,  larkspurs,  and  sweetpeas.   Her 
garden  also  contained  a  bed  of  prize-winning  lilies,  which 
elicited  much  comment  from  those  who  visited  the  house. 
Over  the  years  May  was  to  become  a  skilled  amateur  horticul- 
turist and  spent  time  ordering  seeds  and  plants  and  writing 
friends  and  experts  to  exchange  information  about  gardening 
and  farming.   When  the  house  was  demolished  decades  later 
several  of  the  palm  trees  which  she  had  planted  in  1907,  and 

which  had  grown  very  tall,  were  transplanted  to  the  grounds 

of  Jacksonville's  city  hall.    In  its  early  years  the 

Jennings  house  also  had  a  small  chicken  yard  on  the  premises. 

At  one  time  May  ordered  an  incubator  to  facilitate  the 

raising  of  fowl.   It  was  a  novel  device,  and  friends  and 


neighbors  made  special  visits  to  view  it  in  operation. 
Occasionally  she  raised  pigeons  and  doves  for  their  eggs, 
which  she  considered  a  delicacy.   A  cow  was  kept  for  its 

Sometimes  May's  attachment  and  loyalty  to  her 
beloved  state  of  Florida  manifested  itself  in  curious  and 
humorous  ways.   Shortly  before  the  family  moved  into  their 
new  home  she  chose  as  the  house's  box  number  1845.   The 
number  was  a  sentimental  choice  because  it  was  the  date  of 
Florida's  entry  into  the  Union  as  a  state.   The  number 
worked  fine  as  long  as  the  Jennings  home  was  out  in  the 
country,  but  the  Springfield  area  grew  rapidly,  and  even- 
tually the  house  number  caused  a  monumental  headache  for 
the  United  States  Postal  Service.   A  conflict  was  inevita- 
ble for  May  was  determined  to  keep  her  house  number.   After 
threats,  cajolings,  and  finally  negotiations  the  dilemma 
was  solved.   Despite  the  consternation  of  the  postal 
service  and  the  inconvenience  the  illogical  number  caused 
her  neighbors,  May  retained  the  address  of  1845  Main  Street, 


and  so  it  remained  until  her  death. 

Because  of  the  size  of  the  house  and  because  of  the 
family's  social  position  the  Jennings  always  had  servants. 
There  was  a  laundress  who  had  worked  for  them  in  Tallahassee 
and  who  had  moved  to  Jacksonville  with  the  family.   The 
kitchen  maid  was  a  black,  named  Lizzie  Logan,  who  worked 
for  the  Jennings  many  years.   There  was  also  a  black  houseman, 


Benny,  who  served  as  handyman,  gardener,  and  chauffeur.   He 
too  was  employed  by  the  family  for  many  years.   May  was 

kind  to  her  servants,  but  she  always  "expected  from  them 

a  full  day's  work  for  a  full  day's  wages." 

After  settling  in  Jacksonville  the  Jennings  quickly 
immersed  themselves  in  the  city's  civic  life.   Because  they 
preferred  activities  which  concerned  philanthropic,  civic, 
or  political  matters,  rather  than  mere  social  fraterniza- 
tion, they  never  belonged  to  exclusive  social  organizations 
like  the  country  club  or  the  Seminole  and  Yacht  clubs. 
Neither  did  they  indulge  in  that  faddish  social  activity, 
whist  playing  (the  card  game  bridge) ,  which  was  then  all 
the  rage  in  Jacksonville.   Their  circle  of  friends  included 
prominent  local,  state  and  national  business  and  political 
leaders.   As  in  Tallahassee,  May  gained  a  reputation  as  a 
hostess  with  exceptional  abilities.   The  local  paper  pre- 
dicted before  one  of  her  parties  that  "All  the  guests  will 
be  talented,  and  an  artists'  evening  will  be  enjoyed.   That 
the  evening  will  be  a  success,  and  every  moment  will  be  full 
of  pleasure,  goes  without  saying  since  Mrs.  Jennings  is  the 
hostess."     In  addition  to  hospitality  with  her  husband 
she  frequently  entertained  her  own  friends,  and  for  many 
years  she  played  host  to  eminent  clubwomen  from  Florida  and 
the  nation  who  happened  to  pass  through  the  city.   It  was 
not  uncommon  for  the  Jennings  to  have  a  dozen  or  more  over- 
night houseguests  in  the  span  of  one  month's  time. 


Governor  Jennings  never  again  held  elective  office, 
but  he  stayed  active  in  politics  and  continued  to  speak  out 
on  major  issues.   In  19  08  he  and  Austin  Mann,  who  at  that 
time  held  high  office  in  the  state  and  national  Good   Roads 
association,  were  delegates  to  the  national  Democratic  con- 
vention in  Denver.   That  same  year  Jennings  served  as  his 
cousin's  southern  campaign  manager  in  William  Jennings 
Bryan's  third  try  for  the  presidency.   In  1911  Jennings 
served  on  a  special  commission  which  studied  Florida's  out- 
moded tax  system.   He  supported  the  Democratic  candidates — 
Albert  W.  Gilchrist  and  Park  Trammell — in  the  1908  and  1912 
gubernatorial  races,  and  in  1916  he  backed  William  V.  Knott 
in  his  contest  against  Sidney  J.  Catts. 

Jennings'  prime  interest  until  his  death  was  the 
great  Everglades  drainage  project.   In  19  05  Governor  Broward 
appointed  him  counsel  to  the  trustees  of  the  Internal 
Improvement  Fund,  a  position  he  held  almost  five  years.   If 
Broward  was  the  driving  force  and  the  "mouthpiece"  of  the 
vast  reclamation  project,  then  Jennings  was  its  architect 
and  legal  "brains."   It  was  because  of  his  abilities  that 
the  legal  ambiguities  and  threats  to  the  project  were 
untangled.   Almost  singlehandedly  he  was  to  see  that  all  of 
the  challenges  against  it  were  met  and  successfully  resolved 
in  the  courts.     He  authored  important  enabling  legislation, 
and  he  drafted  the  bills  which  financed  the  undertaking. 
The  work  was  time-consuming  and  arduous,  although  he  received 


Broward's  gratitude  and  a  $5,00  0  yearly  salary  from  the 
state  for  his  services.   VIork  on  the  Everglades  project 
embroiled  Jennings  in  several  controversies.   In  1906  he 
sued  the  Jasper  News  for  slander  because  of  libelous 

editorials  it  published  concerning  his  efforts  on  behalf  of 


drainage.   He  won  the  case.     In  1907  he  was  involved  in 

an  altercation  with  Congressman  Frank  Clark,  in  which  he 
struck  the  politician  over  the  head  with  a  hickory  cane. 
The  flap  was  caused  by  remarks  Clark  made  about  Jennings 
and  the  so-called  profits  Jennings  had  received  from  his 
work  for  the  state.   Working  on  behalf  of  the  misunderstood 
reclamation  program  was  not  easy  and  Jennings  and  Broward 
were  frequent  targets  of  ambitious  politicians  and  news- 
papers which  printed  sensational  but  often  incorrect  news 

In  1909  Jennings  resigned  his  post  as  counsel  to  the 
Trustees,  but  he  shortly  became  attorney  for  the  State 
Board  of  Drainage  Commissioners.   Again  he  defended  the 
state's  actions  in  the  courts.   Through  the  years  the  faith 
of  Sherman  and  May  in  the  reclamation  project  never  diminish- 
ed.  Jennings  became  a  nationally  recognized  authority  on 
the  dual  subjects  of  canals  and  drainage  and  gave  numerous 
speeches  around  the  country.   May,  also,  "talked  up"  the 
drainage  project  whenever  she  could.   Several  times  the 
Jennings  journeyed  to  the  work  sites  to  observe  the  progress 
of  the  dredges  as  the  mammoth  machines  plowed  their  way 


across  the  glades.   During  one  such  trip  the  family  boated 

up  the  Caloosahatchee  River  to  inspect  the  dredges  and  to 


indulge  xn  some  "unexcelled  duck  shooting  and  fishing." 

In  1911  the  Jennings  traveled  to  Europe — Holland  and  other 
countries — on  behalf  of  the  National  Drainage  Association 
and  to  observe  firsthand  the  great  European  canal  projects. 
They  returned  to  the  United  States  aboard  the  British  liner 
Lusitania,  later  destined  for  a  tragic  demise. 

In  1912  Jennings  organized  and  hosted  on  behalf  of 
the  state  a  trip  from  Fort  Myers  to   Fort  Lauderdale  via 
the  newly-cut  drainage  canals.   The  journey,  which  treated 
northern  newsmen  and  prominent  Floridians  to  a  free  excur- 
sion, marked  the  official  opening  of  a  cross-state  water- 
way.  The  trip,  undertaken  to  blunt  criticism  of  the  costly 
Everglades  project,  was  a  success,  for  the  participants 
returned  to  their  homes  and  issued  glowing  reports  about 
what  they  had  seen  in  south  Florida.   Apparently,  however, 
they  did  more  than  just  observe  the  canals  and  scenery  for 
in  Jennings'  expense  log  book  of  the  expedition  one  finds 
outlays  for  items  such  as  playing  cards,  poker  chips, 
tumblers,  cigars,  strawhats,  and  bathing  suits.     Austin 
Mann,  who  had  been  promoting  a  cross-Florida  canal  for 
decades  and  who  was  now  seventy- four,  was  one  of  the  guests 
and  it  was  one  of  the  highlights  of  his  life. 

The  Jennings  were  entranced  with  south  Florida  and 
they  began  spending  more  and  more  of  their  time  in  the  area. 


In  1912  they  purchased  two  waterfront  lots  in  Miami,  and  in 
1916  built  a  large  vacation  home  which  they  named  "House- 
in-the-Woods. "   It  was  located  at  3633  Brickell  Avenue, 

between  the  James  Deering  estate  "Vizcaya"   and  the  William 

Jennxngs  Bryan  home  "Villa  Serena."     "House-in-the-Woods" 

was  the  scene  of  several  important  meetings  and  parties 
which  the  Jennings  held  to  promote  Everglades  drainage, 
conservation,  political  candidates,  and  women's  rights. 

In  1910  Jennings  became  attorney  for  Richard  J. 
Bolles,  one  of  the  largest  landowners  in  the  Everglades. 
Jennings,  Mann,  and  Broward  had  met  Bolles  at  the  Democratic 
Convention  in  Colorado  in  1908.   A  land  speculator,  Bolles 
eventually  purchased  more  than  one-half  million  acres  of 
Florida's  swamp  and  reclaimed  lands.   He  was  a  controversial 
figure  and  some  accused  him  of  using  questionable  land  pro- 
motion tactics.   Eventually  he  was  investigated  by  the 
United  States  Senate.   Despite  his  reputation,  his  purchase 
of  swamp  land  aided  the  state  by  bailing  the  drainage 

-i  /r 

project  out  of  its  economic  doldrums.     Prior  to  Bolles 
the  state  was  under  continual  attack  by  critics  who  accused 

Broward  and  his  associates  of  "draining  the  treasury"  as 

well  as  the  Everglades.     To  Jennings  and  other  officials 

Bolles  saved  the  beleaguered  project  during  the  time  of  its 

most  serious  crisis.   Because  of  friendship  and  legal 

services  performed  for  Bolles  the  Jennings  became  large 

landowners.   They  acquired  two  large  tracts  of  land  from 


Bolles;  nearly  60,000  acres  of  timber  and  farmland  in  Clay 
County  that  had  been  owned  jointly  by  Bolles  and  Austin 
Mann,  and  thousands  more  acres  in  Dade  County  near  Homestead. 
The  Jennings  family  formed  several  companies.   One,  known 
as  the  Dade  Muck  Land  Company,  operated  a  truck  farm  and 
citrus  grove  on  3  00  acres,  but  it  proved  only  marginally 
successful.   Eventually  most  of  this  land  was  sold  or  lost 
to  the  banks  during  the  economic  depression  of  the  1930s. 
On  the  Clay  county  land  the  Jennings  built  themselves  a 
large  farmhouse,  later  named  "San  Lebrydo,"  and  organized  the 

Artesian  Farm  Company  of  Middleburg,  which  farmed  vegetables 

and  sold  acreage  to  out-of-state  buyers. 

The  Jennings  continued  to  maintain  their  original 
homestead  in  Brooksville  even  though  they  seldom  visited 
it.   Thus  by  1915  they  owned  homes  in  Brooksville,  Jackson- 
ville, Miami,  and  Middleburg.   Because  of  the  ex-governor's 
busy  law  practice  it  was  May's  responsibility  to  oversee 
these  properties  and  also  much  of  the  operation  of  the 
lands.   These  tasks  she  performed  with  her  usual  efficiency 
and  aplomb.   Through  the  years  she  had  acquired  a  good 
knowledge  of  agricultural  affairs  from  her  father  and 
husband.   The  management  of  the  varied  properties  was  a 
time-consuming  chore  and  she  conducted  much  of  the  day-to- 
day operations  through  the  mails.   Only  the  Middleburg 
property  was  regularly  visited  by  the  family.   At  one  time 
May  supervised  work  on  a  tangerine  grove,  pecan  orchard,  a 


large  potato  patch,  and  a  strawberry  farm,  each  in  a  dif- 
ferent location.   In  using  the  mails  to  conduct  business 
she  followed  the  lead  of  Austin  Mann  for  he  had  relied  on 
this  method  for  years.   His  hectic  traveling  schedule  had 
dictated  it.   Between  1905  and  1914  he  was  managing  a  large 
peach  plantation  in  Tennessee  and  properties  in  Brooksville, 
as  well  as  a  land  speculation  venture  near  Sanford  known 
as  Celery  City.   All  of  this  was  in  addition  to  his  Good 
Roads  work.   Both  May  and  her  father  had  the  ability  to 
handle  simultaneously  a  variety  of  family,  business,  and 
political  obligations. 

Occasionally  the  Jennings  had  relatives  live  in  their 
houses  and  oversee  the  properties.   Two  such  family  members 
were  Roy  Mann,  May's  brother,  and  Tom  Jennings,  her  brother- 
in-law.   Even  though  Jacksonville  was  the  family's  permanent 
residence  May  felt  comfortable  in  all  of  her  houses,  and 
they  were  always  furnished  and  ready  for  an  unannounced 
visit  by  the  family.   she  felt  a  special  affinity  for  her 
Miami  home,  which  the  Jennings  comtemplated  as  a  future 
retirement  home.   She  made  friends  with  many  south  Florida 
women  and  those  friendships  were  later  to  be  invaluable  aids 
in  her  statewide  clubwork. 

May  Jennings  appeared  to  outside  observers  as  a 
woman  who  was  "all  business,"  but  to  those  who  knew  her 
intimately  she  was  also  a  loving  and  compassionate  person. 
While  she  had  little  outward  sympathy  for  moral  weakness  or 


indolence,  for  many  years  she  privately  loaned  money  to 
relatives  and  friends  who  needed  help.   She  financed  the 
college  education  of  her  husband's  niece,  Marie  Kells,  and 
supported  her  brother's  family  because  he  was  an  alcoholic 
and  could  not  hold  a  permanent  job.   She  loaned  money  to 
her  dressmaker  and  her  servants  when  they  needed  help. 
Because  of  her  strong  and  sunny  personality,  which  acted 
as  a  magnet,  she  drew  to  her  those  who  needed  a  friend. 
Her  manuscript  collection  is  full  of  letters  from  strangers, 
as  well  as  friends,  requesting  help.   Over  the  years  she 
gave  money  to  the  Children's  Home  Society,  Daniel  Memorial 
Orphanange,  St.  Luke's  Hospital,  the  Audubon  Society,  the 
Jacksonville  Y.W.C.A.,  and  many  other  organizations.   Her 
own  talents  as  a  fundraiser  were  often  sought  for  she  was 
not  hesitant  to  ask  her  many  friends  for  a  donation  to  what 
she  considered  a  worthy  cause. 

May's  club  career  began  soon  after  the  Jennings  moved 
to  Jacksonville.  In  November  of  1905  she  received  a  letter: 
"Dear  Madam,  At  a  recent  regular  meeting  of  the  Executive 

Board  of  the  Jacksonville  Woman's  Club  you  were  duly  elected 


a  member."     She  was  thirty-three  years  old,  and  photo- 
graphs of  her  at  that  time  show  a  slim,  elegantly-dressed 
woman  with  strikingly  attractive  features.   Her  hats, 
always  large  and  colorful,  were  already  her  trademark. 
Genteel  in  manner  and  dress  she  looked  the  part  of  the  re- 
fined clubwoman.   Her  looks  and  gentility,  however ,  disguised 


a  strong  personality  and  a  politically  astute  mind.   Those 
who  knew  her  realized  that  the  small,  cultured,  fashiona- 
bly dressed  woman  could  and  did  speak  with  authority  and 
command  of  the  facts.   She  was  particularly  persuasive 
when  talking  from  a  dais  before  an  audience.   Over  the 
years  the  "sense  of  presence"  and  charisma  that  May  Jennings 
exuded  were  regularly  noted  by  observers. 

Within  a  short  time  of  moving  to  Jacksonville  she 
had  joined  the  Woman's  Club,  Ladies'  Friday  Musicale, 
Daughters  of  the  American  Revolution,  and  the  Springfield 
Improvement  Association.   She  would  eventually  help 
organize  the  Jacksonville  Y.W.C.A.  and  many  other  local  and 
state  organizations.   During  those  early  years  in  Jackson- 
ville she  particularly  enjoyed  her  membership  in  the 
Musicale,  and  was  a  member  of  its  chorus  which  rehearsed 
weekly.   At  one  Musicale  gathering  she  sang  a  solo  entitled 

"Absent"  which,  according  to  a  newspaper  report,  was  per- 

formed  in  a  "manner  which  called  forth  repeated  applause. " 

In  1907  the  Musicale 's  chorus  performed  at  the  Dixieland 

Theatre  as  part  of  a  Saengerfest  sponsored  by  the  local 

German  society.   A  few  weeks  prior  to  the  performance  May 

read  before  her  fellow  chorus  members  a  paper  she  had 

written  about  Wagner's  Tannhauser .     Eventually  she  resigned 

from  the  chorus  because  of  the  press  of  other  obligations, 

but  she  retained  membership  in  the  Musicale  and  continued 

to  attend  its  many  functions. 


From  1905  until  1914  May's  ablest  efforts  were 
expended  on  behalf  of  the  Jacksonville  Woman's  Club  (JWC) , 
because  it  more  than  any  other  organization  seemed  to  meet 
her  earnest  need  to  be  actively  involved  in  community 
affairs.   Through  it  she  felt  she  could  participate  in  the 
progressive  political  movement  then  underway  in  Florida, 
a  movement  which  her  husband's  administration  had  helped 
launch.   Through  her  clubwork  May  Jennings  was  to  become 
one  of  the  first  women  in  Florida  to  enter  the  state's 
political  scene.   She  became  one  of  the  first  to  take 
advantage  of  the  new  social  and  political  changes  that  were 
beginning  to  impact  American  women,  allowing  them  to  play 
a  more  involved  role.   Those  changes  would  thrust  May  Jen- 
nings into  the  forefront  of  activity  and  make  her  one  of 
the  best  known  personalities  in  the  state. 

A  major  forum  that  women,  like  May  Jennings,  used 
to  gain  entry  into  the  new  worlds  of  political  and  civic 
responsibility  was  the  woman's  club — an  organization  which 
provided  just  the  right  amount  of  genteel  respectability 
for  public  exposure,  while  at  the  same  time  providing  the 
ladies  with  self help  and  educational  programs.   While  the 
woman's  club  movement  appeared  to  be  a  peripheral  outgrowth 
of  the  national  progressive  movement  that  began  during  the 
1890s,  in  reality  it  could  trace  its  roots  back  to  the  Civil 
War  period.   There  was  a  direct  link,  a  thread  of  continuity, 
running  from  the  antebellum  abolition  societies  to  the 


women's  missionary  societies  of  the  1870s,  to  the  women's 

temperance  unions  a  decade  later,  and  then  to  the  women's 


clubs  of  the  1890s.     it  was  not  rare  at  all  to  find  many 

clubwomen  who  had  belonged  to  each  of  these  earlier  organi- 

After  the  Civil  War  more  and  more  women,  North  and 
South,  sought  employment  outside  their  homes  and  began  to 
handle  their  own  property.   The  1890s  were  to  mark  an  impor- 
tant turning  point  in  this  phenomenon.  Changing  public 
attitudes  toward  women  plus  technology,  which  helped  to 
free  them  from  household  drudgery,  helped  to  promote  a 
degree  of  liberation  from  a  male-dominated  society,  and 
allowed  them  to  devote  themselves  to  interests  beyond  the 
family.   They  felt  that  a  new  day  was  dawning  and  they 
yearned  to  join  the  mainstream  of  American  life,  where 
educational,  economic,  and  political  opportunities  were 
available   The  South  had  always  been  more  conservative  in 
its  attitudes  toward  the  role  of  women,  but  even  here  there 
seemed  to  be  an  enthusiasm  expressed  by  females  as  they 
approached  the  twentieth  century.   A  few  even  believed  it 
would  be  possible  to  move  from  "pedestal  to  politics,"  to 

enter  the  mundane  and  hitherto  forbidden  areas  of  public  and 


political  life. 

Women's  clubs  became  a  major  vehicle  for  their 
members  to  participate  in  social  and  political  matters. 
Still  wearing  "bustles,  corsets,  and  stays,"  more  and  more 


females  began  to  venture  forth  to  challenge  the  entrenched 
views  of  themselves  and  society.   This  spiritual  and  politi- 
cal awakening  would  have  major  consequences,  for  though 
the  women  lacked  the  franchise  and  other  political  rights, 
their  clubs  became  mediums  for  progressive  social  change. 
Women's  organizations  in  Florida  and  elsewhere  made  a  major 
impact  on  life  in   America.   Club  leaders,  like  May 
Jennings,  left  an  indelible  mark  on  Florida's  political, 
educational,  and  social  institutions. 

The  Florida  woman's  club  movement  spread  rapidly. 
Organizations  were  formed  throughout  the  state  during  the 
1890s,  following  the  establishment  of  the  Green  Cove 
Springs  club,  the  state's  oldest,  established  in  1883. 24 
During  the  1890s  female  reading  societies  and  village 
improvement  associations  appeared  everywhere,  no  town  seemed 
to  be  too  small  for  such  an  organization.   Ladies  met  in 
their  homes  to  study  history,  literature,  music,  art,  and 
political  science.   They  also  participated  in  charity  work, 
which  usually  encouraged  them  to  discuss  community  problems. 
Many  females  came  to  realize  that  they  had  a  responsibility 
to  help  resolve  problems  relating  to  education,  housing, 
health,  libraries,  parks,  crime,  and  sanitation.   They  met 
with  local  officials  in  an  attempt  to  coax  or  coerce  them 
into  taking  action.   Political  involvement  at  first  was 
tempered  by  timidity  and  circumspection  but  as  the  women 
gained  confidence  their  goals  and  tactics  became  bolder. 


Their  pathway  was  often  impeded  by  ridicule,  disappoint- 
ments, and  defeats.   Successes  in  the  early  days  of  the 
movement  were  few.   Confrontations  with  male  public  officials 
were  routine  and  left  each  club  with  its  own  "hairraising" 
story  to  insert  into  its  minutes  books. 

In  the  early  period,  1890-1920,  club  membership  was 
confined  almost  entirely  to  women  from  affluent,  upper- 
middle-class  families.   Women  like  May  Jennings  became  the 
leaders  of  the  clubs,  for  they  were  well  educated,  possess- 
ed organizational  abilities,  and  many  were  good  public 
speakers.   At  first  most  of   the  clubs  were  little  more 
than  social  gatherings  with  teas,  cotillions,  musicales, 
and  garden  parties  consuming  most  of  the  members'  time  and 
energies,  but  as  time  passed  this  situation  changed.   Soon 
the  women  were  studying  social  problems  in  depth,  writing 

position  papers,  circulating  petitions,  and  making  public 

,    26 


Florida's  early  clubs  sometimes  had  amusing  names. 
Many  names  were  purposely  obscure  for  the  women  seemed  to 
want  to  avoid  publicity  so  as  not  to  call  attention  either 
to  themselves  or  their  organizations.   Unusual  club  names 
in  Florida  included  the  Fortnightly  Club  of  Palatka,  House- 
keepers of  Coconut  Grove,  Progressive  Culture  Club  of 
Titusville,  Caxtons  of  Pensacola,  Entre  Nous  of  West  Palm 
Beach,  Current  Topic  Club  of  Lake  City,  Twentieth  Century 
Club  of  Gainesville,  Avila  of  Rockledge,  and  the  Literary 


and  Debating  Club  of  Melrose.   There  were  also  village 
improvement  associations.   Of  course  the  names  fooled  no 
one;  everyone  knew  they  were  women's  clubs  even  if  they  did 
not  sound  like  them. 

Most  of  the  clubs  eventually  changed  their  names 
to  something  more  identifiable.   For  example,  Brooksville 
women  first  organized  as  the  Whittier  Club,  became  the 
Ladies'  Improvement  Society,  and  finally  became  the  Brooks- 
ville Woman ' s  Club.   Whatever  the  designation,  the  organiza- 
tions furnished  the  comaraderie,  intellectual  stimulation, 
and  leadership  training  which  the  women  sought.   Usually 
the  first  goal  of  each  club  was  to  build  a  clubhouse  on  a 
prominent  site  in  town.   Many  of  these  structures  were 
still  standing  in  1980.   In  smaller  towns  these  buildings 
often  served  as  the  community  center. 

By  1895  there  were  enough  clubs  and  intercommunica- 
tion between  them  for  a  statewide  meeting  to  be  held  to 
discuss  federation.   Such  arrangements  among  women's  clubs 
had  already  occurred  in  other  states.   There  was  even  a  new 
national  federation,  the  General  Federation  of  Women's 

Clubs  (GFWC) ,  composed  of  state  federations,  which  had  been 

organized  in  New  York  City  in  1894.     The  GFWC  eventually 

became  a  powerful  organization  with  headquarters  and  lobby- 
ists located  in  Washington,  D.C.   Through  the  years  the  GFWC 
would  work   for  municipal  and  national  governmental  reforms, 
child  labor  legislation,  penal  reform,  equitable  taxation, 


improved  public  education,  health  laws,  and  national  conser- 
vation laws.   The  strength  of  the  General  Federation  was  to 
lie  in  its  numbers.   By  1914  every  state  federation  had 
joined  it  and  it  represented  more  than  two  million  American 

The  General  Federation  offered  up  to  twenty  different 
subjects  to  study,  including  everything  from  political 
science,  music  and  art,  to  conservation,  and  public  health. 
Subjects  were  dropped  and  others  added  as  the  times  and 
political  interests  of  the  women  dictated.   The  General 
Federation  held  a  biennial  convention  in  a  large,  major 
American  city  every  two  years,  at  which  programs  were 
presented  on  the  different  subjects,  called  departments  in 
the  Federation,  after  which  the  women  would  vote  on  pertinent 
issues  that  they  wanted  to  push  in  the  halls  of  government. 
In  1980  the  General  Federation  of  Women's  Clubs  was  still  a 
viable  organization  with  its  headquarters  in  Washington. 

On  February  21,  1895,  eight  women  representing  five 

village  associations  met  in  the  library  of  the  Green  Cove 


Springs  Village  Improvement  Association.  ''      Attending  were 

Mrs.  E.N.  Burrows,  Mrs.  E.V.  Low,  Mrs.  E.G.  Munsell,  and 
Mrs.  E.A.  Graves,  Green  Cove  Springs;  Mrs.  S.B.  Safford, 

Tarpon  Springs;  Mrs.  Emma  C.  Tebbetts,  Crescent  City;  Mrs. 

S.L.  Morse,  Orange  City,  and  Mrs.  L.E.  Wamboldt,  Fairfield. 

That  same  day  the  women  voted  to  federate  their  clubs  and 

thereby  established  the  Florida  Federation  of  Women's  Clubs 


(FFWC) .   The  constitution  and  by-laws  set  forth  the  objec- 
tive: "To  bring  the  women's  clubs  [of  Florida]  into  acquain- 
tance and  mutual  helpfulness."     Clubs  applying  for 
membership  were  expected  to  be  "free  from  sectarian  or 

political  bias  and  [to  express]  the  spirit  of  progress  on 


broad  and  humane  lines."     The  Federation  was  governed  by 

a  state  president,  lesser  officers,  and  a  board  of  directors, 
which  was  to  be  composed  of  veteran  clubwomen.   All  officers 
served  two  year  terms. 

At  first  some  Florida  clubs  refused  to  join  the  state 
federation,  accusing  it  of  "radicalism."   This  was  particu- 
larly true  of  the  conservative  panhandle  area  of  the  state, 
yet  the  Federation  grew.   In  1910  it  contained  thirty-six 

clubs  representing  16  00  women;  by  1914  some  6,000  women  had 



The  Federation's  organizational  framework  was 
patterned  after  the  General's,  which  it  joined  the  following 
year.   Starting  with  only  one  section  it  was  eventually 
divided  into  five  state  sections,  formed  by  combining  contig- 
uous  counties.   By  1920  there  were  twelve  sections,  each 

headed  by  a  vice-president  who  worked  under  the  state 


president.     Each  section  held  an  annual  meeting;  once  a 

year  the  whole  Federation  met  in  convention.   The  first 

statewide  convention  was  held  in  18  96  at  Green  Cove  Springs. 

In  the  early  years  delegates  sometimes  had  to  overcome 

formidable  odds  just  to  attend  the  conventions;  long 


distances  between  cities,  poor  traveling  facilities,  and 
opposition  from  skeptical  and  hostile  family  members.   Only 
eleven  women  attended  the  fourth  annual  state  convention 
which  met  in  Jacksonville  in  1899. 

The  Florida  Federation's  departments  were  the  same 
as  the  General's,  but  as  each  state  was  allowed  its  own 
variations,  Florida  had  additional  ones.   These  included 
departments  which  promoted  bird  protection,  forestry, 
waterways,  good  roads,  and  the  Seminole  Indians.   Florida 
women  reflected  a  more  than  ordinary  interest  in  the  develop- 
ment and  conservation  of  the  state's  natural  resources.   As 
in  the  General  Federation  the  departments  in  the  state 
federation  were  added  and  dropped  as  interests  dictated. 

From  its  inception  in  1895  the  Florida  Federation 
was  a  politically-minded  organization.   The  first  official 
action  taken  by  the  women  at  the  historic  Green  Cove 
Springs  meeting,  in  1895,  was  to  direct  each  of  the  five 
member  clubs  to  "hold  a  meeting  for  the  purpose  of  drawing 
up  a  petition  to  the  legislature  of  Florida,  praying  it  to 

recind  the  act  [which]  allowed  cattle  to  run  at  large  in 

towns  of  less  than  twelve  hundred  inhabitants."     Thus 

was  the  Federation's  first  legislative  program  launched. 

The  animal  problem  was  a  familiar  one  to  Floridians.   May 

Jennings  and  her  sister  clubwomen  had  tackled  the  problem 

in  Brooksville  as  early  as  1891.   Amazingly  the  fledgling 

Federation  almost  made  good  on  its  stated  objective  for 


"on  May  6,  1895,  Mr.  Fleming  introduced  in  the  senate,  Bill 
Number  284,  amending  the  act  defining  what  cities  shall 
impound  live  cattle."   The  bill  passed  the  Senate  on  May 
17,  but  failed  in  the  House. 

The  battle  over  free  roaming  and  tick-laden  Florida 
livestock  had  begun.   It  was  to  become  one  of  the  longest 
and  toughest  battles  the  Federation  was  ever  to  face.   The 
Florida  range  industry  was  one  of  the  state's  most  powerful 
and  entrenched  interests,  and  it  proved  to  be  a  formidable 
foe.   Lucy  Blackman,  historian  of  the  Florida  Federation, 
writing  in  the  1930s,  described  the  consequences  of  that 
1895  call  to  legislative  action  as  follows:  "Thus  has  it 
been  for  more  than  thirty  years  that  between   the  Federa- 
tion of  Women's  Clubs  and  the  Legislature  of  Florida,  the 
sacred  Florida  cow  has  been  an  everpresent  bone  of  conten- 
tion—skin and  bone  literally.   It  looks  as  though  there 
might  be  thirty  more  years  of  contention  ahead  of  us  before 
this  ticky  and  emaciated  beast  shall  have  been  sufficiently 
immersed  and  groomed,  and  made  fit  for  good  society.   I  can 
promise  the  legislators  of  those  coming  days  that  the 

Federation  women  will  still  be  on  hand  with  their  resolu- 

tions  and  persuasions."     Mrs.  Blackman 's  prediction  was 

true  for  the  livestock  problem  was  not  completely  resolved 

until  the  1960s.   The  Federation  ladies  stood  strong  and 

adamant  during  the  long  battle,  with  May  Jennings  leading 

much  of  the  fight. 


From  1895  the  Federation  was  never  without  a  legis- 
lative program.   At  each  annual  convention  the  clubwomen 
would  discuss  the  major  issues  pertinent  to  the  organiza- 
tion's departments,  and  then  by  motion  and  vote  produce 
a  political  action  program  which  would  become  the  following 
year's  goal.   This  uniform,  statewide  solidarity  on  issues 
was  one  of  the  keys  to  the  Federation's  successes.   Since 
the  Federation  objectives  became  the  goals  of  each  club, 
then  each  member  was  a  fighter  for  the  cause.   A  word  from 
the  leadership  was  enough  to  flood  the  legislature  or 
special  officials  with  hundreds  of  letters  and  telegrams. 
Some  of  the  Federation's  favorite  programs  took  many  years 
to  accomplish.   The  fight  for  compulsory  school  attendance 
laws  lasted  fourteen  years.   The  struggle  to  preserve  part 
of  tropical  south  Florida  took  more  than  forty  years;  the 
battle  over  unfenced  and  undipped  livestock  was  waged  over 
a  period  of  seventy  years.   Many  of  the  Federation's  most 
spectacular  successes  occurred  during  its  first  twenty- 
five  years.   Success  often  depended  on  the  calibre  of  the 
organization's  leadership.   Fortunately,  women  with  the 
required  talents  were  there  when  needed.   The  Federation's 
legislative  committee,  which  was  established  in  1908,  had 
the  direct  responsibility  of  seeing  that  the  organization's 
political  program  was  publicized  and  presented  to  the  state's 
representatives  at  each  session  of  the  legislature.   By 
necessity,  the  women  who  chaired  this  committee  had  to  be 


articulate  and  politically  knowledgeable.   Few  were  to  equal 
May  Jennings  in  political  astuteness,  and  she  served  as  a 
member  of  this  important  committee  longer  than  any  other 
woman  in  the  Federation's  history. 

Through  the  years  the  FFWC  supported  a  myriad  of 
political  objectives.   Gradually  the  organization  was  to 
become  conservative  in  its  political  point  of  view,  but, 
during  its  early  history,  it  was  as  progressive  as  any 
organization  in  Florida.   Although  it  supposedly  was  non- 
partisan, there  was  always  a  conservative  faction  in  the 
Federation  which  opposed  the  more  progressive  majority. 
Nevertheless,  for  its  day,  the  Federation  was  a  liberal 

During  its  first  decades  several  themes  tended  to 
repeat  themselves  in  the  Federation's  political  programs. 
Ever  concerned  about  "social  purity,"  i.e.  morality,  and 
aware  that  their  sex  did  not  have  full  economic  or  legal 
rights,  the  women  continually  tried  to  upgrade  the  status 
of  women  in  these  areas.   In  1897  they  petitioned  the  legis- 
lature to  raise  the  female  age  of  moral  and  legal  consent 
from  age  ten  to  twenty-one.   In  19  01  the  age  was  finally 
set  at  eighteen.   The  Federation  ladies  worked  for  legisla- 
tion which  would  protect  the  family  and  female  and  children's 

rights.   In  1911  the  organization  issued  a  booklet  titled 

3  8 

Some  Laws  of  Importance  to  Women  in  Florida.     It  was  the 

first   of  many   pamphlets  on  female  rights  published  in 


Public  education  was  another  issue  which  the  Federa- 
tion consistently  promoted.   As  early  as  1901  the  women 
were  urging  the  establishment  of  tax-funded  kindergartens, 
modernized  school  curricula,  improved  teacher  training, 
compulsory  attendance  laws,  adequate  public  funding,  and 
females  being  appointed  to  school  boards.   For  twenty  years 
the  Federation  sponsored  a  free  traveling  library  which 
was  open  to  the  public  and  used  by  the  public  schools. 

Conservation  and  beautif ication  were  also  promoted 
by  the  Federation.   These  issues  were  particularly  championed 
by  a  small  but  vocal  group  of  south  Florida  women.   At 
the  Federation's  1905  convention  several  of  these  ladies 
introduced  a  motion  which  would  have  far-reaching  conse- 
quences for  Florida  and  the  nation.   The  motion  as  adopted 
advocated  the  creation  of  "a  Federal  forest  reservation  of 
Paradise  Key  in  the  Everglades,  in  order  to  preserve  the 
unique  groups  of  Royal  Palms,  this  being  the  only  spot  in 

the  United  States  where  these  palms  are  found  growing 


naturally.   '   When  May  became  president  of  the  Federation 

years  later  she  used  this  motion,  which  was  still  on  the 
Federation's  books,  to  help  bring  its  promises  to  fruition. 
The  Federation  also  worked  to  get  a  state  Forestry  Commis- 
sion established. 

From  the  beginning  the  Federation  was  concerned  with 
public  health  and  child  care.  In  these  areas  the  clubwomen 
were  usually  far  ahead  of  local  and  state  health  officials. 


In  19  07  the  clubwomen  began  selling  Christmas  seals,  with 
proceeds  going  into  anti-tuberculosis  work.   They  sponsored 
"health  days"  in  the  public  schools.   In  1910  the  organiza- 
tion sponsored  a  speaking  tour  by  Dr.  Ellen  Lowell  Stevens, 
female  doctor  and  clubwoman.   In  1911  clubwomen  in  Jackson- 
ville were  responsible  for  the  establishment  of  a  State 
Conference  of  Charities.   The  Federation  was  also  a  major 
pressure  group  which  brought  about  the  creation  of  the 
state's  first  tuberculosis  sanitarium  and  school  for  the 
retarded  and  feeble-minded. 

The  Federation's  impact  was  first  felt  at  the  local 
level.   Each  club  became  a  vehicle  for  social  and  civic 
change  within  its  own  community.   In  1899  the  Green  Cove 
Springs  Village  Improvement  Association  launched  a  city 
beautif ication  program,  organized  a  forestry  and  bird  club, 
and  provided  funding  and  staffing  for  a  free  public  library. 
The  St.  Petersburg  Women's  Town  Improvement  Association 
worked  to  get  an  ordinance  which  would  prevent  loose  chickens 
and  other  fowl  from  polluting  public  sidewalks  and  roadways. 
Other  clubs  were  protecting  birds,  planting  trees,  cleaning 
streets,  and  establishing  libraries;  "sidewalks,  bicycle 

paths,  fences,  and  even  school  houses  were  built  by  these 

intrepid  women.      They  raised  money  for  their  projects 


by  sponsoring  exhibitions,  banquets,  and  candy  and  bake 
sales.   The  women's  good  works  were  being  felt  and  acknowl- 
edged across  the  state. 

The  clubwomen's  activities  were  not  always  welcomed 
by  the  general  public.   City  and  county  officials  were 
often  startled  and  usually  perplexed  when  groups  of  local 
ladies  marched  into  their  offices,  demanding  that  they 
clean  up  the  communities  and  provide  better  services.   Male 
consternation  and  anger  were  often   confounded  by  the  fact 
that  the  women  confronting  them  were  their  very  own  wives, 
daughters,  sisters,  and  mothers.   Lucy  Blackman  refers  to 
these  pioneer  clubwomen  as  "heroines"  and  "captains 
courageous."   She  states  that  they  were  consistently  faced 
with  "the  old  Adam  war-cry   'Woman's  Place  Is  In  The  Home,' 

which  reverberated  through  the  pines  and  over  the  rivers 

and  lakes  and  oceans  from  Pensacola  to  Key  West. "     One 

of  these  women,  a  member  of  one  of  Jacksonville's  most 

prominent  families,  remembered  that  in  those  early  days 

she  was  often  reviled  for  associating  with  such  an  "iniqui- 

tious  movement"  as  a  woman's  club.     Others  recalled  "that 

the  men  of  the  towns  were  bitter  in  their  denunciations  of 

Women's  Clubs  [but]  that  there  were  always  enough  women 

with  spinal  cords  starched  stiff,  who  raised  eyebrows  and 

went  forth  anyway  to  do  as  they  saw  fit. 

If  local  officials  resented  the  women,  the  members 

of  Florida's  all-male  legislature  were  especially  indignant. 


Their  ridicule,  sarcasm,  and  mockery  was  routinely  reported 
in  the  state's  newspapers.   It  seems  that  the  women  had  an 
"annoying  habit  of  talking  back  to  the  legislators  after 

they  had  been  told  politely  to  go  home  and  tend  their 

babies. "     With  the  exceptions  of  the  two  Jacksonville 

papers,  the  Florida  Times-Union  and  the  Metropolis,  early 

allies,  most  of  the  state  press  was  skeptical  of  what  the 

women  were  trying  to  do.   In  an  editorial  "No  Women  in 

Politics  Please,"  the  Jacksonville  Sun  pleaded  for  some 

way  to  "save  us  from  this  catastrophe." 

A  writer  in  Florida  Magazine  wondered  "What  will  the 

twentieth  century  woman  be?"  after  observing  that  changes 

in  manners  and  habits  of  thought  had  brought  about  radical 

"new  conditions"  in  the  domestic  sphere.     And  the  Ladies 

Home  Journal  wishfully  noted  that  "The  tide  of  women  rushing 

,  47 
pellmell  into  all  kinds  of  business  has  been  stemmed. 

Of  course,  the  tide  was  not  stemmed  and  women  in  Florida 
and  elsewhere  began  to  take  their  rightful  place  in  public 

May  Jennings,  more  than  any  other  female  in  Florida, 
was  to  personify  the  new  civic-minded  twentieth-century 
woman.   Her  rise  to  prominence  would  begin  in  the  Jackson- 
ville Woman's  Club. 


Notes  to  Chapter  V 

Jennings  was  a  director  of  the  Leesburg  State  Bank 
and  the  State  Bank  of  Ybor  City.   An  income  statement  for 
1905  shows  that  the  family  spent  $5,957  on  living  expenses, 
$2,866  on  law  office  expenses,  and  $30,733  on  investments. 
WSJ  Papers,  Box  20. 


Jacksonville  Florida  Times-Union,  May  23,  1964. 


Governor  Jennings'  desk  is  in  the  possession  of 

Dorothy  Jennings  Sandridge. 

A.S.  Mann  to  W.S.  Jennings,  June  30,  1907.   WSJ 
Papers,  Box  22. 

Jacksonville  City  Directory,  1912  (Jacksonville, 
1912)  ,  n.p. 

Jacksonville  Florida  Times-Union,  May  23,  1964. 


Interview  with  Dorothy  Brown  Jennings,  July  27, 
197  8.   Penney  Farms,  Florida. 


Jacksonville  Metropolis ,  April  20,  1908. 

For  a  description  of  Jennings '  role  in  resolving 
the  legal  problems  which  threatened  the  drainage  project 
see  W.S.  Jennings,  "Florida's  Public  Lands,"  Legislative 
Bluebook,  1917,  pp.  55-73. 


Jacksonville  Metropolis ,  April  13,  1907. 

W.S.  Jennings  to  William  Jennings  Bryan,  November 
20,  1908.   WSJ  Papers,  Box  22. 


Itemized  list  of  trip  supplies.  WSJ  Papers,  Box 

24.   For  additional  details  about  the  trip  see  Alfred  J. 

and  Katherine  A.  Hanna,  Lake  Okeechobee,  Wellspring  of  the 

Everglades  (Indianapolis,  1948) ,  pp.  159-161. 

Miami  City  Map,  1918;  Miami  City  Directory,  1919. 


For  the  story  of  the  Everglades  project  and  Jennings', 
Broward's,  and  Bolle's  roles  in  it  see  Hanna,  Okeechobee, 
pp.  118-172. 

1  7 

Jacksonville  Metropolis,  February  28,  1906. 


Arch  Fredric  Blakey,  Parade  of  Memories,  History  of 

Clay  County,  Florida  (Jacksonville,  1976)  ,  pp.  187-188. 

The  majority  of  the  Clay  County  land  was  still  in  the  hands 

of  the  Jennings  family  in  1980. 

Jacksonville  Woman's  Club  to  May  Jennings,  November 
25,  1905.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  2. 


Jacksonville  Metropolis,  March  16,  1907. 

2 1 

Souvenir  zum  Verbandsf est ,  1907.   May  Jennings'  copy 

of  the  Saengerfest  program  can  be  seen  in  the  Haydon  Burns 
City  Library,  Jacksonville,  Florida. 

2  2 

For  a  short  history  of  the  women's  movements  of 

the  nineteenth  century  and  the  role  played  by  southern 
women  see  Anne  F.  Scott,  The  Southern  Lady:  From  Pedestal 
to  Politics,  1830-1930  (Chicago,  1970),  passim. 



Jennie  June  Croley,  The  History  of  the  Woman's  Club 
Movement  in  America  (New  York,  1898)  ,  p.  155.   Green  Cove 
Springs  is  designated  the  site  of  Florida's  first  woman's 

7  S 

Margaret  Nell  Price,  "The  Development  of  Leadership 

by  Southern  Women  Through  Clubs  and. Organization"  (M.A. 

thesis,  University  of  North  Carolina,  1945)  ,  passim. 

Karen  J.  Blair,  "The  Clubwoman  as  Feminist:  The 
Woman's  Culture  Club  Movement  in  the  United  States,  18  6  3- 
1914"  (Ph.D.  dissertation,  State  University  of  New  York 
at  Buffalo,  1976) ,  passim. 


Croley,  The  History  of  the  Woman's  Club  Movements 

in  America,  p.  55 


Blackman,  The  Women  of  Florida,  I,  p.  129. 

29Ibid.  ,  p.  127. 



Florida  Federation  of  Women's  Clubs  hereafter  re- 
ferred to  as  the  Federation  or  the  FFWC.   The  General 
Federation  of  Women's  Clubs  hereafter  referred  to  as  the 
General  or  the  GFWC. 


Blackinan,  The  Women  of  Florida,  I,  p.  130. 


List  of  clubs  in  the  FFWC,  1914.   See  Appendix  II. 


List  of  presidents  of  FFWC.   See  Appendix  III. 


Location  of  first  twenty-five  FFWC  conventions. 

See  Appendix   IV. 


Blackman,  The  Women  of  Florida,  I,  p.  131. 

36Ibid. ,  p.  130. 



3  8 

Florida  Federation  of  Women's  Clubs,  Some  Laws  of 

Interest  to  Florida  Women  (Jacksonville,  1914). 


Blackman,  The  Women  of  Florida,  I,  p.  153.   The  two 

women  who  introduced  the  resolution  were  Mary  Barr  Munroe 
(Mrs.  Kirk  Munroe)  and  Edith  Gifford  (Mrs.  John  Gifford) . 

40Ibid. ,  p.  130. 

41Ibid. ,  p.  132. 


Ibid. ,  p.  133. 



Ibid. ,  p.  136. 


Jacksonville  Sun,  December  2,  1905. 


Florida  Magazine,  I,  November,  1900,  p.  105. 


Ladies  Home  Journal  quoted  in  Florida  Magazine,  IV, 

March,  19  02.  "  " 


The  Jacksonville  Woman's  Club  became  one  of  the 
state's  largest  and  most  influential  women's  clubs.   It  had 
its  beginnings  on  January  20,  1897,  when  forty  women  met 
at  the  Windsor  Hotel  across  from  Hemming  Park  to  organize 
a  club  for  the  "mutual  improvement  [and]  entertainment  of 
its  members,  [and]  for  the  cultivation  of  the  amenities  of 
social  life,  and  to  give  aid  to  all  worthy  objects."    Thus 
its  purpose  was  threefold:  self-improvement,  entertainment, 
and  good  works.   The  women  represented  the  city's  most 
affluent  and  prominent  families,  and  included  Lula  Paine 
Fletcher  (Mrs.  Duncan  U.),  Julia  Furcghgott  (Mrs.  Leonard), 
Katherine  Livingston  Egan  (Mrs.  Dennis),  Cordelia  Durkee 
(Mrs.  J.H.),  Lucy  Colby  Wamboldt  (Mrs.  N.C.),  and  Lizzie 
Marsh  Yerkees  (Mrs.  J.B.).   Later  members  came  from  the 
Cummer,  L'Engle,  Barnett,  Meigs,  Broward,  and  Young  families. 
By  1907  the  club  had  215  members. 

Soon  after  its  establishment  the  Jacksonville  club 
began  offering  a  full  slate  of  activities.   Reading  and 
study  classes  were  organized;  a  nurse  was  hired  to  visit 
the  city's  poor  and  sick;  and  art  and  flower  shows  were  held 
to  raise  money  for  the  public  schools  and  St.  Luke's  Hospi- 
tal.  When  the  great  fire  of  1901  nearly  destroyed 



Jacksonville  the  club  supplied  most  of  the  workers  for  the 
Woman's  Relief  Corp.   By  1904,  the  year  that  a  clubhouse 
was  constructed  at  18  East  Duval  Street,  the  club  had  become 
an  influential  member  of  the  city's  social  and  civic  estab- 
lishment.  In  1927  a  more  spacious  club  home  was  built  on 
Riverside  Avenue. 

In  1906  the  club  supported  a  pure  food  and  drug 
exposition  by  arranging  a  parade  of  decorated  baby  coaches 
and  "goat  carriages"  on  Bay  Street.   A  woman's  lounge  was 
opened  in  the  club  building  for  downtown  shoppers  and  female 
employees  to  use  as  a  "haven  of  rest."   In  1907  the  clubwomen 
protested  to  city  hall  about  the  "cows  roaming  free"  through- 
out Springfield,  and  they  petitioned  the  Board  of  Public 
Works  to  provide  playgrounds  in  the  parks.   The  club  had 
become  so  successful  at  getting  things  done  that  Claude 
L'Engle  editorialized  in  the  Jacksonville  Dixie  that  "Wonens ' 
Clubs  with  the  wonderfully  feminine  energies  underlying 

them,  have  the  levers  in  their  possession  like  old  Atlas 

to  move  Mother  Earth  off  of  its  pegs." 

During  the  Jacksonville  club's  first  decade  the  women 

studied  such  disparate  items  as  forestry,  opera,  flower 

arranging,  conservation,  municipal  reform,  Milton's  Paradise 

Lost,  child  care,  legends  of  Florida,  bacteria,  Shakespeare's 

plays,  birds,  Greek  architecture,  the  legal  status  of  women, 

and  the  nebula  hypothesis.   Two  other  subjects  on  the  agenda 

were  ship  canals,  perhaps  suggested  by  May  Jennings,  and 


the  question,  "Are  We  Healthier  and  Happier  Than  Our  Grand- 
mothers?"  To  the  latter  the  women  answered  in  the  affirma- 
tive, but  the  real  importance  of  the  question  lay  not  in 
the  fact  that  the  women  answered  "yes,"  but  that  they  had 
asked  the  question  at  all.   It  reflected  just  how  far  they 
had  come  since  "the  good  old  days." 

After  joining  the  Jacksonville  club  in  1905,  May 
became  one  of  its  most  active  members.   She  was  popular 
with  most  of  the  women,  but  her  energy,  deep  commitment  to 
social  progress,  and  her  political  bravura  were  a  source  of 
alarm  to  the  club's  more  staid  and  conservative  members. 
Some  of  the  ladies  felt  that  she  was  too  interested  in 
politics  and  might  involve  the  club  in  controversy.   Lucy 
Blackman  states  that  the  women's  clubs  were  "the  most  demo- 
cratic organizations  in  the  world"  for  they  asked  for  no 

"ancient  lineage,  adherance  to  a  particular  political  creed, 

or  specific  religious  belief."    This  was  true,  but  like 

all  organizations  which  drew  its  members  from  an  elite 
clientile  the  women's  clubs  tended  to  be  exclusive.   New 
members  had  to  be  sponsored,  and  only  a  few  lower-middle- 
class  or  Jewish  women  were  ever  invited  to  join.   Victorian 
morality  and  social  conservatism  made  some  of  the  clubwomen 
frown  on  anyone  who  was  not  of  the  accepted  class  or  who  had 
talents  or  ideas  which  might  "rock  the  boat."   May  had 
impeccable  credentials,  but  she  was  different  from  most  of 
her  associates  in  that  she  was  not  afraid  of  controversy  or 


confrontation.   In  fact,  she  seemed  to  thrive  on  them.   A 
few  of  the  Jacksonville  members  never  truly  accepted  her, 
and  later  they  accused  her  of  "playing  politics"  and  of 
"grandstanding"  for  personal  attention.   Many  seemed  not 
to  understand  the  importance  of  the  work  that  she  and  other 
Florida  clubwomen  were  undertaking.   To  many  women  the  ob- 
jectives of  their  clubs  and  of  the  Federation  were  commenda- 
ble, but  they  resented  anything  that  interfered  with  their 
own  socializing  or  family  responsibilities.   To  May,  efforts 
expended  to  achieve  the  Federation's  political  objectives 
were  not  only  serious  business,  but  also  a  form  of  social 
and  intellectual  entertainment.   Her  sense  of  citizenship 
and  nobless  oblige  gave  clubwork  a  higher  meaning  than  many 
of  her  contemporaries  were  able  to  accept.   Dedication  and 
commitment  played  a  central  role  in  her  lifelong  avocation 
of  civic  and  public  service. 

Many  of  May's  rivals  and  harshest  critics  were  women 
very  much  like  herself:  highly  motivated,  intelligent,  and 
strong  willed.   Mrs.  Minerva  Jennings  (Mrs.  Frank  E.),  no 
relation,  and  Margaret  Young  (Mrs.  William  B.),  fell  into 
this  category.   Like  May  both  were  married  to  prominent  men 
and  they  were  much  involved  in  civic  work  in  Jacksonville. 
May  was  to  clash  with  them  often  over  club  policy  and  tac- 
tics.  The  rivalry  between  the  women  occasionally  threatened 
to  erupt  into  open  hostility,  but  usually  the  competition 
remained  hidden  and  out  of  public  sight.   While  never 


petty,  May's  quick  tongue  and  overwhelming  sense  of  self- 
assurance  sometimes  made  people  fear  her.   The  majority  of 
women  that  she  worked  with  over  the  years  supported  her  and 
her  ideas,  even  though  some  may  have  been  awed  by  her  abili- 
ties.  One  admirer  later  wrote,  "Mrs.  Jennings  shows  a 
marked  degree  of  disregard  of  cliques.   [She]  has  risen 
superior  to  them.   In  fact  fairness  is  one  of  the  attributes 

that  has  been  most  salient  in  all  that  she  has  done.   She 

is  approachable  at  all  times."    Through  the  years  May  was 

to  garner  a  sizable  group  of  loyal  supporters. 

May  Jennings  was  interested  and  active  in  so  many 

things  during  her  lifetime  that  she  might  be  accurately 

described  as  a  renaissance  woman.   She  was  interested  in 

art,  music,  and  drama.   Through  careful  organization  of  her 

time  she  was  able  to  involve  herself  in  many  different 

types  of  civic,  club,  and  political  matters  and  projects 

at  the  same  time.   While  involved  in  the  many  activities  of 

the  Friday  Musicale  she  could  also  solicit  funds  for  an 

orphanage,  lead  a  petition  drive,  organize  political  tactics 

for  a  lobbying  effort  on  the  legislature,  and  also  maintain 

a  full  entertainment  and  travel  schedule.   Her  interests 

and  her  ability  to  work  assiduously  for  disparate  movements 

reveals  a  woman  with  an  active  mind  and  much  physical  energy. 

May  Jennings  could  comfortably  work  on  a  host  of  club,  civic, 

and  political  projects  simultaneously.   She  retained  this 

ability  and  her  peripatetic  lifestyle  all  of  her  life. 


Occasionally  she  would  narrow  her  vision  and  concentrate 
for  the  moment  on  one  project,  but  it  was  usually  for  just 
long  enough  to  get  some  favorite  project  begun  moving,  or 
terminated.   The  pace  she  set  for  herself  was  astonishing. 
Few  women  were  able  to  match  either  the  number  of  projects 
she  promoted,  the  number  of  clubs  she  belonged  to,  the 
many  people,  prominent  and  less  well  known,  she  knew  on  a 
first  name  basis,  or  the  intensity  of  effort  which  she 
brought  to  her  work.   Her  name  appeared  frequently  in  the 
newspapers  and  on  the  rosters  of  many  scores  of  clubs  and 
organizations.   By  1910  she  was  well  known  by  the  general 
public,  and  four  years  later  when  she  became  president  of 
the  Florida  Federation  of  Woman's  Clubs  she  was  the  most 
prominent  woman  in  the  state. 

May  Jennings  hated  inaction.   She  was  a  doer,  and 
she  saw  inaction  as  weakness.   When  named  to  head  a  committee 
or  assigned  a  responsibility  she  immediately  began  making 
plans  and  organizing  the  workers  necessary  to  get  the 
objective  accomplished.   She  was  somewhat  unusual;  most  of 
her  associates  lacked  either  confidence  in  their  own  abili- 
ties or  the  experience  to  take  on  difficult  tasks.   The 
Jacksonville  club's  yearbooks  for  1906  and  1907  list  her 
as  a  member  of  the  social  purity  committee,  and  as  chairman 
of  the  civics  committee.   For  the  next  several  years  she 
chaired  the  club's  legislation  committee.   The  earliest 
record  of  her  leading  a  movement  was  on  a  project  which  the 


Jacksonville  club  undertook  in  the  summer  of  1906.   Charac- 
teristically, she  chose  to  make  it  into  a  statewide  crusade. 
It  involved  railroad  depots. 

Jacksonville  was  known  as  the  "gateway  to  Florida." 
Hundreds  of  thousands  of  tourists  passed  through  the  city 
each  year;  most  of  them  traveling  by  train.   The  local  depot 
was  a  decrepit  and  uncomfortable  building  which  did  not  put 
either  Jacksonville  or  Florida  in  the  best  light  to  visitors. 
In  1906  the  Jacksonville's  Woman's  Club  members  decided  that 
the  old  station  needed  a  facelift.   A  committee,  with  May 
Jennings  as  chairman,  was  formed  to  look  into  the  situation. 
She  argued  that  the  women  should  not  limit  their  efforts  to 
Jacksonville.   The  problem  was  statewide;  most  of  Florida's 
depots  were  antiquated  and  uncomfortable.   The  women  passed 
a  resolution,  the  first  of  many  such  documents  bearing  May's 
signature,  calling  for  a  statewide  campaign  to  repair,  clean, 
and  beautify  every  depot  in  the  state.    Local  citizens  in 
each  community  were  called  upon  to  lead  the  effort.   May 
mailed  a  copy  of  the  resolution  to  every  town  government, 
village  improvement  association,  woman's  club,  newspaper, 
and  railroad  official  in  the  state  she  could  ascertain.   The 
Jacksonville  officials  who  received  copies  also  received  a 
personal  "lecture"  on  the  problem  from  May  and  her  committee 
members . 

Publication  of  the  resolution  throughout  Florida 
helped  to  rally  public  opinion.   May  and  her  cohorts  had 


put  state  and  local  authorities  on  notice  that  Florida 
clubwomen  were  a  force  to  be  reckoned  with.   Unfortunately, 
the  results  of  the  campaign  were  mixed,  and  many  station 
masters  refused  to  cooperate  in  cleaning  up  their  depots. 
However,  enough  interest  was  stirred  that  R.  Hudson  Burr, 
state  railroad  commissioner,  who  had  received  a  personal 
note  from  May,  felt  impelled  to  make  an  inspection  tour  of 
the  railroads'  public  facilities.   Newsmen  noted  that  Burr 

was  unfavorably  impressed  with  what  he  found  and  was  particu- 


larly  appalled  by  conditions  at  the  Brooksville  station. 

Despite  railroad  resistance  and  lethargy  among  town 
officials,  May  was  pleased  that  the  resolution  had  stirred 
up  public  interest  and  had  forced  state  officials  to  take 
some  action.   The  campaign  showed  that  if  women  acted 
together  they  could  affect  the  quality  of  public  life.   In 
November  1907  May  attended  the  thirteenth  annual  FFWC  con- 
vention in  Gainesville.   It  was  her  first  recorded  atten- 
dance at  a  Federation  convention.   While  there  she  reported 
that  the  railroad  campaign,  while  not  an  overwhelming  success, 
had  significantly  improved  depots  in  some  of  the  state's 
major  cities,  like  Jacksonville,  Tampa,  and  Tallahassee.   On 
her  return  to  Jacksonville  the  Metropolis  described  her  as 
"a  very  important  member  of  the  Florida  circle  of  club 
women . 

In  1907,  as  chairman  of  the  civics  committee,  May 
began  working  on  behalf  of  child  welfare,  a  cause  which  was 


to  consume  much  of  her  energy  in  the  next  decade.   She  began 
her  work  at  first  with  the  State  Reform  School  at  Marianna. 
Clubwomen  had  shown  an  interest  in  the  institution  since 
its  establishment  in  1897,  and  many  deplored  the  harsh  and 
unsanitary  conditions  at  the  school.   Facilities  were  inade- 
quate, and  the  inmates  were  often  mistreated.   The  majority 
of  children  were  black,  three  were  girls.   Medical  atten- 
tion was  lacking  and  the  mortality  rate  was  high.   The 
inmates  received  little  formal  education  and  no  religious 

or  moral  teachings.   Boys  as  young  as  ten  years  were  observed 

working  the  school's  farm  with  their  feet  shackled  by  chains. 

Efforts  to  establish  a  Florida  juvenile  court  system, 
improve  the  juvenile  penal  system,  and  public  education, 
and  regulate  child  labor  were  loosely  grouped  together  in 
what  was  termed  the  child  welfare  movement.   Various  organi- 
zations were  involved.     The  movement  was  given  a  major 
impetus  when  the  conditions  at  Marianna  were  publicized. 
In  19  07  Governor  Broward  called  for  doubling  the  appropria- 
tion to  the  school,  to  $10,000  per  annum.   May  supported 
this  action  and  made  the  improvement  of  the  Marianna  school 
the  major  objective  of  her  committee.   She  read  a  paper  to 
the  club  that  she  had  written  about  the  conditions  there, 
and  then  called  for  a  memorial  to  the  legislature  endorsing 
Broward's  request.   The  women  stated  that  they  "heartily 
agreed  that  the  institution  should  be  made  a  real  Reforma- 
tory School  [with  industrial  training]  and  not  be  a 


Juvenile  Prison."     The  memorial,  signed  by  May  and  173 
Jacksonville  clubwomen,  was  sent  to  the  governor,  the 
cabinet,  and  each  legislator.   Telegrams  and  letters  poured 
in  from  the  women,  and  the  19  07  legislature,  one  of  the 
state's  most  progressive,  not  only  heeded  the  governor's 

request  concerning  the  reform  school,  but  it  also  passed 

Florida's  first  comprehensive  child  labor  law.     Mrs.  C.H. 

Raynor,  Federation  president,  was  presented  the  pen  with 

which  Broward  signed  this  bill.   May  was  pleased  for  she 

had  written  or  talked  to  every  official  that  she  knew  in 

support  of  the  bills. 

There  was  still  much  to  be  done  at  the  state  level 

to  secure  better  conditions  and  rights  for  children.   When 

the  1909  legislature  convened,  several  other  organizations 

united  with  the  clubwomen.   They  included  the  Florida  State 

Federation  of  Labor,  and  a  loose  confederation  of  private 

child  welfare  agencies  led  by  Marcus  Fagg,  superintendent 

of  the  Children's  Home  Society  of  Jacksonville,  Florida's 

largest  orphanage.   Led  by  May,  Jacksonville  clubwomen  again 

submitted  a  resolution  to  the  legislature.     This  time  it 

called  for  a  $25,000  yearly  appropriation  to  the  Marianna 

institution.   Albert  W.  Gilchrist,  who  was  now  governor,  was 

visited  by  May  and  received  personally  a  copy  of  the  new 

resolution.     She  also  delivered  a  memorial  from  the  club 

supporting  another  more  comprehensive  child  labor  bill  which 

was  ready  for  the  legislature.     Unfortunately,  she  was 


unable  to  remain  in  Tallahassee  to  lobby  for  the  bills. 
Despite  a  full-scale  letter  writing  campaign  by  clubwomen 
and  personal  lobbying  by  Marcus  Fagg,  the  1909  legislature 
refused  to  increase  the  reform  school's  appropriation  or  to 
enact  the  child  labor  bill.   It  did,  however,  appoint  a 
committee  to  inspect  the  facility  at  Marianna.   Undaunted, 
May  and  the  clubwomen  vowed  to  continue  the  work.   The  year 
1911  would  be  a  crucial  year  in  the  struggle  for  child 
welfare  legislation. 

Determined  to  help  the  school,  the  Federation's 
legislative  committee  devoted  the  years  1910-1911  to  a  study 
of  the  reformatory.   The  committee  was  now  led  by  Susan  B. 
Wight  (Mrs.  Henry)  of  Sanford,  an  aggressive  leader.   The 
school  was  still  underfunded,  and  the  women  believed  that 
the  special  legislative  committee  of  1909  had  "whitewashed" 
its  report  on  conditions  at  the  school.   One  morning  soon 
after  the  lawmakers  had  issued  this  report  Mrs.  Wight  and 
Mrs.  Willian  B.  Young,  "put  on  their  hats,  and,  uninvited 

and  unannounced  and  unexpected  and  evidently  unwanted, 

1  fi 
arrived  at  the  Reformatory  for  a  spend- the-day  visit." 

The  report  these  women  issued  created  a  sensation  in  Florida, 

and  it  gave  progressives  the  ammunition  they  thought  they 

needed  to  convince  the  legislature  that  the  school  was  a 

disgrace.   May,  now  chairman  of  the  Jacksonville  club's 

legislation  committee,  again  submitted  a  resolution  on  behalf 

of  the  school  to  the  1911  legislature.   She  felt  that  by 


working  with  labor,  Marcus  Fagg,  and  Mrs.  Wight's  committee, 
the  needed  bill  would  now  be  enacted.   To  help  the  cause 
the  Federation  published  a  small  pamphlet  entitled  Plea  for 
the  Marianna  Reform  School,  which  was  mailed  to  all  legis- 
lators, women's  clubs,  and  newspapers.   Speakers  traveled 
throughout  the  state,  among  them  Mrs.  Wight,  Mrs.  Young, 
Mrs.  Frank  Jennings,  Marcus  Fagg,  and  May  Jennings  to  lobby 
among  citizens  groups  on  behalf  of  the  bill. 

The  women's  1911  resolution  to  the  legislature  urged 
the  lawmakers  to  adequately  fund  the  Marianna  school,  but 
it  also  called  for  enactment  of  a  series  of  progressive 
laws,  including  compulsory  education,  a  child  labor  law, 
and  the  prohibition  of  horse  racing  and  all  kinds  of  book- 
making  and  betting  in  the  state.   The  women  worked  hard  to 
get  the  legislation  enacted.   Unfortunately,  for  the  second 
time  May  was  unable  to  spend  time  in  Tallahassee  and  neither 
was  Mrs.  Wight.   The  women  had  pinned  their  hopes  on  J.C. 
Privett  of  the  state  labor  organization  and  Mr.  Fagg,  but 
halfway  through  the  session  labor  withdrew  its  support  of 
the  compulsory  education  bill.   Toward  the  end  of  the 
session  Privett  recommended  as  a  substitute  for  the  child 
labor  bill,  a  measure  which  would  create  a  bureau  of  labor 
and  statistics.   As  a  consequence  the  child  labor  bill  was 
allowed  to  die  in  committee.   Mr.  Fagg  notified  May,  and 
urged  her  to  ask  the  women  to  contact  their  representatives. 
May  immediately  sent  urgent  telegrams  to  clubwomen  around 


the  state.   Florence  Cay,  wife  of  a  Tallahassee  businessman 
and  former  legislator,  was  asked  to  "do  everything  possible 
to  get  child  labor  bill  reconsidered.   The  legislation  is 
the  only  protection  of  the  helpless  children's  best  interests 
against  corporate  wealth,  and  for  humanity's  sake  passage 

of  bill  should  be  urged.   Conservation  of  the  child  is  our 


first  duty."     The  women's  effort  was  for  nought;  the  bill  did 

not  pass. 

The  1911  legislative  session  proved  to  be  a  mixed 
blessing.   The  reform  school's  appropriation  was  increased 
to  §17,500  per  annum,  and  a  landmark  juvenile  court  measure, 
which  revolutionized  juvenile  justice  in  Florida,  was  passed. 
However,  the  legislature  refused  to  enact  either  the  child 
labor  bill  or  the  compulsory  education  bill.   May  was 
pleased  with  the  progress  attained,  but  she  had  learned  a 
valuable  lesson;  if  lobbying  was  needed  it  had  to  be  done 
personally.   This  was  not  a  responsibility  to  be  entrusted 
to  third  parties.   She  looked  on  Privett  and  his  organiza- 
tion as  self-serving  and  opportunistic,  and  was  thereafter 
reluctant  to  work  with  them.   Her  association  with  Fagg 
continued,  however.   When  the  1913  legislature  convened  May 
was  in  a  more  important  position,  and  many  legislators 
would  learn  before  the  session  ended  just  how  personally 
persuasive  she  could  be.   She  was  still  interested  in  child 
welfare  but  in  another  aspect.   She  had  become  the  Federa- 
tion's state  chairman  of  education  and  worked  with  a 


committee  of  five,  one  of  whom  was  Virginia  Trammell,  the 
governor's  wife. 

Concurrent  with  her  activity  on  behalf  of  child 
welfare,  May  was  involved  in  other  causes.   In  1907  she 
became  connected  with  a  movement  which  kept  the  city  of 
Jacksonville  in  turmoil  for  many  weeks.   The  temperance  and 
prohibition  movements  were  on  the  ascendancy  throughout  the 
nation,  particularly  the  South.   Prohibitionists  in  Duval 
County  had  tried  unsuccessfully  to  use  the  local  option 
clause  in  the  Florida  constitution  and  make  Duval  "dry." 
In  1907  several  events  occurred  which  encouraged  Jackson- 
ville temperance  advocates  to  try  again.   First,  many 
counties  in  South  Carolina  and  Georgia  voted  to  adopt  pro- 
hibition, and  this  led  to  an  influx  of  breweries  and  liquor 
establishments  into  north  Florida.   Second,  a  neighborhood 
protective  association  was  organized  when  whisky  interests 
attempted  to  expand  into  the  pleasant,  tree-lined  suburb  of 
Springfield.   Finally,  several  counties  in  Florida  voted  to 
go  "dry"  in  1906  and  1907. 

Disturbed  by  the  encroachment  of  the  liquor  interests 
and  cheered  by  successes  elsewhere,  local  businessmen, 
including  former  Governor  Jennings,  formed  the  Duval  County 
Prohibition  League  to  collect  signatures  for  a  petition  to 
be  presented  to  the  city  council,  calling  for  a  "wet-dry" 
referendum.   Opposing  this  effort  was  the  Business  Men's 
Association.   Prohibition  was  a  controversial  and  emotional 


issue  and  as  the  campaign  to  get  signatures  increased,  the 
county  became  polarized.   Friends,  business  partners,  and 
even  families  took  opposing  stands  on  the  issue. 

Midway  into  the  campaign  women  favoring  the  petition 
move  met  at  the  First  Baptist  Church  and  organized  the 
Women's  Prohibition  League.   May  Jennings  was  elected 

president,  and  Mrs.  Duncan  U.  Fletcher  was  chosen  vice- 

president.     Within  a  month  the  organization  had  over  250 

members.   May  quickly  began  organizing  rallies  and  signing 

up  workers  for  the  cause.   Women  were  assigned  to  canvass 

every  block  in  the  city's  wards.   Late  in  November  the 

women  sponsored  a  public  rally  held  in  a  large  tent  on  West 

Adams  Street.   As  the  campaign  heated  up  so  did  the  rhetoric, 

The  "drys"  were  accused  of  selling  their  "birthrights  for 

a  mess  of  prohibition  pottage."     Those  favoring  the  free 

sale  of  liquor  were  said  to  be  in  cahoots  with  the  Devil. 
Evangelists  and  clergymen  of  every  persuasion  descended 
upon  the  city  to  preach  at  impromptu  rallies  and  harangue 
citizens  on  the  city's  downtown  streets,  while  local  minis- 
ters used  their  own  pulpits  to  exhort  their  congregations  to 
vote  the  "right  way." 

In  early  19  08  May  wrote  Governor  Broward  an  indignant 
letter  concerning  the  many  "blind  tigers"  (illicit  liquor 
establishments)  which  she  claimed  state  and  local  officials 
were  allowing  to  proliferate  in  northeast  Florida.   She 
received  a  rather  cool  reply  from  the  governor  and  denials 


from  sheriffs  in  the  affected  counties.   In  February  of  that 
year  Carrie  Nation,  the  famous  "Kansas  Saloon  Smasher," 
visited  Jacksonville  as  part  of  a  statewide  tour.   May 
scored  a  triumph  when  she  persuaded  Mrs.  Nation  to  address 
the  Women's  Prohibition  League.   Mrs.  Nation,  who  said  she 
"used  her  tongue  now"  instead  of  an  axe  to  smash  barrooms, 
delivered  what  was  described  as  a  rousing  pep  talk.   Mrs. 
Nation's  addresses  always  "contained  a  liberal  sprinkling  of 
quotations  from  scripture  on  the  evils  of  alcohol  mixed  with 

harsh  words  for  local  politicians  and  saloon  keepers  and 


their  patrons."     At  the  reception  which  followed  her 

speech,  Mrs.  Nation  passed  out  her  famous  red  lapel  pins 
which  were  shaped  like  hatchets.   For  the  duration  of  the 
campaign  May  prominently  displayed  her  pin  on  the  collar  of 
her  dresses. 

Despite  their  work,  the  prohibitionist  campaign 
failed.   The  city  council  noted  technical  irregularities  in 
the  petition,  and  the  antis-  on  the  council  refused  to  vote 
to  call  a  special  election.   Disappointed  but  not  deterred, 
prohibitionists  vowed  to  continue  the  struggle.   In  1910  a 
state  prohibition  constitution  amendment  was  defeated  by 
Florida  voters.   In  1916  the  prohibition  issue  played  a 
major  role  in  Sidney  J.  Catts '  gubernatorial  campaign,  and, 
of  course,  in  1919  the  eighteenth  amendment  to  the  United 
States  Constitution  made  prohibition  the  law  of  the  land. 


May  Jennings'  involvement  in  the  prohibition  move- 
ment reflected  more  than  just  an  intellectual  or  moral 
approval  of  the  issue.   She  had  firsthand  knowledge  of  the 
dangers  inherent  in  liquor.   Her  brother  was  an  alcoholic, 
and  he  had  caused  the  family  embarrassment  and  grief.   May 
had  found  it  necessary  to  provide  financially  for  his  wife 
and  children.   Personal  sorrow  also  motivated  her  prohibi- 
tion work;  her  brother  and  his  wife  would  both  die  young. 
May's  prohibition  sentiments  were  therefore  deeply  felt  and 
remained  with  her  all  her  life.   She  continued  to  support 
prohibitionists,  particularly  the  Florida  Anti-Saloon  League. 
There  is  no  record,  however,  that  she  ever  belonged  to  the 
Women's  Christian  Temperance  Union. 

In  1909  May  became  the  leader  of  a  committee  of  club- 
women whose  work  resulted  in  improvements  in  the  Duval  County 
penal  system.   In  January  of  that  year  Katherine  Eagan  spoke 
to  a  group  of  women  about  the  deplorable  conditions  existing 
at  the  city  jail,  a  facility  nicknamed  "Raspberry  Park." 
The  Jacksonville  Metropolis  had  condemned  the  jail  in  arti- 
cles and  editorials,  calling  it  a  disgrace  and  little  more 

than  "a  hole  in  the  wall."     May's  committee  was  supposed 

to  look  into  the  situation.   Within  the  week  she  addressed 

the  city  council  and  invited  its  members  to  accompany  her 

and  her  committee  on  a  tour  of  the  facility.   On  February  1, 

1909,  she,  Mrs.  Waldo  Cummer,  Mrs.  Guy  Pride,  and  councilmen 


St.  Elmo  Acosta,  Maurice  Slager,  and  Whitfield  Walker 
visited  the  jail.   The  group  was  appalled;  the  situation 
was  even  worse  than  they  had  been  told. 

The  jail  accommodations  consisted  of  two  rooms:  one 
40'  x  5'  which  housed  sixty-seven  black  males,  and  the 
other  20'  x  51  where  there  were  seventeen  white  men.   Neither 
cell  had  cots,  windows,  or  sewerage.   The  stench  was  unbear- 
able.  Inmates  slept  on  the  stone  floor,  winter  and  summer. 
They  received  bread  and  water  once  a  day  and  corned  beef  on 
Sundays.   The  city's  health  officer  had  never  visited  the 
place.   May  was  outraged  by  what  she  saw.   The  Metropolis 

reported  that  the  "club  ladies  will  not  rest  until  condi- 


tions  are  bettered  at  Raspberry  Park." 

At  the  next  council  meeting  officials  listened  to 
May's  plans  for  improvements  to  the  facility  and  then  quick- 
ly voted  to  implement  them;  $967  was  appropriated  to  add 
plumbing,  enlarge  the  cells,  and  cut  windows  in  the  walls 
of  the  building.   The  clubwomen  were  still  not  satisfied, 
and  they  continued  their  surveillance  of  the  facility.   The 

following  summer  May  went  before  the  council  again  and 

secured  an  additional  $3  00  to  improve  the  building  further. 

Eventually  the  building  was  demolished,  and  a  county 
penal  farm  was  constructed  past  the  city  limits  near  north 
Main  Street. 

May  continued  her  work  on  behalf  of  other  organiza- 
tions.  In  February  1910,  she  became  an  organizer  and  charter 


member  of  the  Katherine  Livingston  Chapter  of  the 
Daughters   of  the  American  Revolution,  and, through  this 
organization,  over  the  years  helped  sponsor  many  patriotic 
events.   In  1911  the  chapter  helped  secure  funds  to  pur- 
chase a  silver  service  for  the  newly  launched  battleship 
Florida.   When  the  ship  was  later  decommissioned  DAR  mem- 
bers arranged  for  the  service  to  be  placed  in  the  Florida 
governor's  mansion.   May  served  as  a  vice  regent  and  later 
as  state  chairman  of  the  organization's  old  trails  and  roads 
committee,  and  as  head  of  its  state  library  committee.   For 
many  years  the  Livingston  Chapter  sponsored  "Flag  Day"  and 
"Americanism"  programs  in  Duval  County  schools.   During  the 
first  world  war  the  chapter  raised  money  for  the  Red  Cross 
and  for  entertainment  of  soldiers  stationed  in  the  area. 
In  the  1920s  it  paid  for  a  scholarship  for  a  veteran  to 
attend  the  University  of  Florida.   The  Jacksonville  DAR 
was  also  responsible  for  the  monument  at  Mayport  which 
commemorated  the  landing  of  Ribault  and  the  French  in  the 
seventeenth  century.   Through  the  years  May  worked  on  behalf 
of  the   DAR  chapter's  goals  and  hosted  many  of  its  meetings 
in  her  home. 

May  Jennings  also  worked  on  behalf  of  St.  Luke's 
Hospital  through  the  Jacksonville  Woman's  Club's  health 
committee.   She  solicited  funds  for  the  hospital  and  worked 
diligently — lobbying  and  writing  letters--to  secure  a 
contagious  disease  ward  for  the  institution.   She  became 


upset  with  hospital  officials,  however,  when  in  1914  the 
institution  was  moved  to  a  new  location  in  Springfield. 
May  felt  that  it  was  an  undesirable  site  so  close  to  homes, 
a  school,  and  other  public  buildings.   It  was  also  believed 
the  hospital  would  lower  area  property  values. 

In  1911  May,  Mrs.  Bion  H.  Barnett,  Mrs.  W.B.  Young, 
and  other  interested  ladies  met  to  discuss  the  establishment 
of  a  Young  Women's  Christian  Association  in  the  city.   The 
men  had  constructed  a  Y.M.C.A.  several  years  earlier.   May 

was  in  charge  of  drawing  up  the  by-laws  and  securing  a 

2  5 
charter  for  the  new  women's  association.     She  was  also 

appointed  to  help  raise  money  for  the  new  enterprise.   During 
the  fund  drive  she  wrote  to  her  husband,  "I  canvassed  for 
the  Y.W.C.A.  yesterday  and  got  $212  without  counting  yours. 
We  go  again  tomorrow,  then  we  are  going  to  strike." 

The  Calif ornian,  a  boarding  house  on  Newnan  Street, 
was  leased  as  the  Association's  first  home.   Later,  a  large 
four-story  building  at  13  0  West  Monroe  Street  was  purchased.27 
May  was  elected  to  the  Association's  first  board  of  direc- 
tors, and  she  served  until  1915.   During  her  years  on  the 
board  she  headed  the  "Y's"  physical  department,  which  was 
supposed  to  provide  the  girls  with  the  "right  habits  of 

life,  healthful  environment,  and  development  of  good 

2  8 

physique."     May  continued  her  interest  in  the  assoi 

whether  she  was  serving  as  an  officer  or  not. 


Continuing  her  many  activities  did  not  keep  her  busy 
in  1912  for  that  year  she  became  president  of  the  Spring- 
field Improvement  Association,  later  known  as  the  Spring- 
field Woman's  Club.   While  serving  as  president,  1912-1914, 
she  remained  chairman  of  the  Jacksonville  Woman's  Club 
legislation  committee  and  held  an  office  in  the  state  Federa- 
tion.  However,  the  Springfield  and  Jacksonville  clubs  were 
friendly  rivals,  and  May  eventually  resigned  her  member- 
ship in  the  Jacksonville  club  and  retained  her  Springfield 

The  Springfield  club  concerned  itself  mainly  with 
Springfield  matters.   During  May's  first  tenure  as  president 
of  the  club  (she  was  reelected  in  1920) ,  the  organization 
worked  to  preserve  the  suburban  integrity  of  the  area.   It 
sponsored  beautif ication  programs,  maintained  Springfield 
Park,  and  sponsored  band  concerts  during  the  summer.   As  the 
self-appointed  watchdog  for  the  area,  the  club  gained  a 
reputation  as  an  activist  organization.   During  the  1920s 
the  club  became  involved  in  one  of  the  hottest  issues  ever 
to  confront  the  area.   It  concerned  the  removal  of  the  Main 
Street  esplanade  and  the  destruction  of  many  of  the  area's 
large  oak  trees.   May  Jennings  was  one  of  the  leaders  in 
the  battle  to  save  the  esplanade,  but  she  was  not  successful. 

By  1912  May  Jennings  had  become  perhaps  the  best 
known  woman  in  Florida.   She  had  confronted  almost  every 
Jacksonville  and  Duval  County  official,  and  many  on  the  state 


level.   It  was  generally  acknowledged  that  she  was  very 
effective,  and  she  was  in  demand  to  sponsor  organizations 
or  speak  on  behalf  of  special  causes.   Her  popularity  was 
abetted  by  the  fact  that  through  all  of  her  civic  work  she 
had  maintained  her  own  aura  of  gentility  and  sense  of 
decorum.   The  public  perceived  her  as  an  honest,  intelli- 
gent, but  determined  woman  who  had  the  best  interests  of 
all  citizens  at  heart.   She  was  also  seen  as  a  person 
who  could  stand  up  to  authorities  and  get  things  done. 
The  fact  that  she  refrained  from  backing  frivolous  causes 
or  participating  in  unseemly  behavior  made  her  appear 

In  1912  May  spoke  before  several  religious  groups. 
At  the  annual  Baptist  State  Missionary  Union  at  Lakeland 
she  described  to  an  audience  of  women  what  true  public 
service  meant  to  her,  listing  the  many  organizations-- 
Y.W.C.A.,  Mother's  Clubs,  Women's  Clubs — which  needed 
workers.   She  urged  women  to  work  to  purify  and  reform 
American  life,  and  warned  that  if  they  did  not,  America's 
institutions  might  be  destroyed  by  the  influx  of  foreign- 
speaking  immigrants  that  were  flowing  into  the  country  in 
great  numbers.   She  resented  the   fact  that  these  immi- 
grants, at  least  the  men  who  became  citizens,  could  partic- 
ipate  in  national  and  state  elections,  while  she  and  other 
women  who  were  native  born,  could  not.   She  ended  with  the 
exhortation,  "Let  us  be  more  practical  v/ith  our  religion, 


and  apply  it  to  our  own  life  work.   There  are  comparatively 
few  enlisted  in  public  service.   We  need  more  recruits  to 

lighten  the  burden  of  the  few  in  this  fast  growing  and  much 

needed  work. "     In  reporting  her  speech  the  Florxda  Times- 
Union  noted  that  "Mrs.  Jennings  is  an  enthusiastic  club- 
woman who  sees  herself  and  others  as  social  workers." 

At  the  annual  Federation  convention  at  West  Palm 
Beach  in  1912,  Elizabeth  Hocker  of  Ocala  was  elected  presi- 
dent of  the  organization.   May  became  vice-president  and 
chairman  of  the  Federation's  department  of  education,  and 
thus  a  member  of  the  board  of  directors,  and  part  of  the 
organization's  inner  circle.   During  Mrs.  Hocker ' s  term 
the  Federation  began  its  most  vigorous  decade  of  growth 
and  political  activity.   She  and  May  worked  to  strengthen 
the  organization.  They  wrote  letters  of  encouragement  and 
spoke  before  many  unaffiliated  clubs  urging  them  to  join 
the  Federation.   The  results  were  impressive.   Susan  Wight 
wrote  May:  "Good  for  you  Lady,  I  am  proud  of  you  and  our 
prospects  for  advances.   Things  are  beginning  to  move.   Our 

Federation  is  finally  going  to  realize  some  dreams  I've 

dared  to  entertain  for  it."     By  1913  the  Federation  had 

grown  to  include  some  seventy-two  clubs  with  a  combined 

membership  of  3,600  women. 

The  Federation  was  able  to  select  its  leaders  from 

among  the  ablest  women  in  Florida,  and  clubs  were  making  an 

impact  on  public  opinion  and  legislation  on  every  level-- 


local,  county,  and  state.   The  Federation  was  no  longer  a 

joke,  even  to  the  legislature.     During  the  Hocker  admin- 
istration women  in  the  clubs  began  to  feel  a  real  sense  of 
statewide  camaraderie.   They  sensed  that  they  belonged  to 
an  important  movement.   The  officers  were  a  close-knit  band 
of  women  who  became  warm  personal  friends.   Convening  regu- 
larly for  board  meetings,  and  through  correspondence,  and 
visiting  in  each  other's  homes  this  group  developed  into 
a  sisterhood  which  had  special  meaning  to  each  member.   Their 
letters  to  one  another  changed  from  formal  businesslike 
communications  and  began  to  include  references  to  insider's 
jokes  and  to  personal  family  matters.   Some  of  the  women 
even  took  to  using  nicknames.   One  club  friend  referred  to 
May  as  "Lady  Bug,"  while  another  addressed  her  as  "My  Dear 

Heavenly  Twin,"  perhaps  a  reference  to  the  fact  that  May 


was  a  Gemini  on  the  astrological  chart.     This  spirit  of 

fun,  of  family,  and  camaraderie  coincided  with  the  period 
of  the  Federation's  greatest  growth  and  most  spectacular 

In  1912  May  was  the  right  person  to  head  the  Federa- 
tion's department  of  education.   Her  interest  in  public 
education  went  back  many  years.   She  had  supported  her 
husband's  work  during  his  years  as  president  of  the  Hernando 
High  School  board  of  trustees  and  while  living  in  Tallahassee 
she  had  supported  the  move  to  provide  free  textbooks  and 
increases  in  funding  for  public  education.   Twice   she  had 


accompanied  her  husband  when  he  had  spoken  before  the  Flori- 
da Education  Association.   He  had  served  for  many  years 
as  a  trustee  of  Stetson  University   and,  after  leaving 

the  governor's  office,  he  continued  to  speak  to  various 

groups  about  the  need  for  education  legislation.     in 

Jacksonville  May  was  an  active  member  of  the  Springfield 

Mother's  Club  and  had  been  instrumental  in  organizing  the 


Duval  County  Federation  of  Mother's  Clubs.      She  served 

on  the  committee  which  had  entertained  delegates  to  the 
Florida  Education  Association's  1912  convention.   In  addi- 
tion, the  Jennings  were  personal  friends  of  many  of  the 
state's  most  prominent  educators.   William  N.  Sheats, 
William  H.  Holloway,  William  Conradi,  Lincoln  Hulley,  A. A. 
Murphree,  and  William  F.  Blackman   had  all  been  entertained 
at  one  time  or  another  in  the  Jennings'  Jacksonville  home. 

In  1910  State  Superintendent  William  Holloway  appoint- 
ed May  to  the  executive  committee  of  the  Florida  Women's 
School  Improvement  Association.   She  served  three  years. 
Also  on  the  committee  was  Lucy  Blackman,  May's  close  friend 
and  wife  of  William  F.  Blackman.   The  objectives  of  the 
Association  were  to  make  "schools  the  center  of  gravity  of 
community  life  and  arouse  in  parents  a  greater  sense  of 
obligation  and  responsibility"  to  education.     The  Asso- 
ciation oversaw  the  establishment  of  local  chapters  which 
in  turn  were  supposed  to  work  for  the  establishment  of 


school  libraries  and  improved  school  grounds.   By  1911, 
150  of  these  groups  had  been  organized  in  the  state. 

Thus  by  the  time  May  became  head  of  the  Federation's 
education  department  she  had  a  good  knowledge  of  the  problems 
and  needs  of  Florida's  school  system.   She  set  to  work 
organizing  a  program  of  action  for  the  upcoming   1913 
legislative  session,  including  choosing  a  committee  to  work 
with  her.   It  included  Mrs.  Park  Trammell  of  Tallahassee, 
Mrs.  J.C.  Huber  of  Tampa,  Rachel  Gaines  of  Leesburg, 
Mar i am  Pasteur  of  Palatka,  Mrs.  Lee  Spear  of  Fort  Lauderdale, 
and  Mrs.  Charles  Boneaker  of  Pensacola.   One  of  the  responsi- 
bilities of  this  committee  was  to  raise  funds  for  the  Federa- 
tion's scholarship,  established  in  1906,  at  the  Florida 
State  College  for  Women  at  Tallahassee,  to  train  kinder- 
garten teachers. 

Shortly  after  assuming  the  chairmanship  of  the  educa- 
tion department  May  met  Agnes  Ellen  Harris  of  the  home  eco- 
nomics department  of  the  women ' s  college.   In  1909  Harris 
had  toured  the  state  on  behalf  of  the  Federation  and  given 
a  series  of  lectures  on  the  subject  of  domestic  science. 
May  recommended  that  the  Federation  support  Miss  Harris  in 
another  endeavor.   Rural  extension  work,  being  promoted  by 
the  United  States  Department  of  Agriculture  in  conjunction 

with  the  landgrant  colleges,   was  being  promoted  throughout 

the  South.     One  aspect  of  the  work  was  to  urge  countxes 

to  promote  boys'  and  girls'  corn  and  tomato  clubs.   There 


were  also  potato,  cotton,  poultry,  and  hog  clubs.   These 
clubs  were  supposed  to  teach  children,  ages  ten  to  eighteen, 
the  rudiments  of  sowing,  harvesting,  canning,  and  marketing 

produce.   Each  child  was  to  till  a  tenth  of  an  acre  and  then 

3  8 

market  the  harvest.     By  1912  thirteen  Florida  counties 

had  enrolled  in  the  project,  and  622  girls  had  canned  18,000 

cans  of  tomatoes  which  had  been  sold  for  thirteen  cents  a 

can.     Anges  Harris  was  the  agent  in  charge  of  the  girls' 

clubs  and  Professor  J.W.  Vernon  of  the  University  of  Florida 
worked  with  the  boys'  organizations. 

May  was  impressed  with  Miss  Harris'  work  and  aware 
that  she  was  getting  little  help  from  state  officials. 
With  approval  from  Mrs.  Hocker  May  set  up  two  Federation 
prizes,  for  the  girl  and  boy  who  achieved  the  best  annual 
production  record.   Each  prize  was  worth  $50.00  toward  the 
winner's  education.   May  persuaded  officials  of  Cohen 
Brothers  Department  Store  in  Jacksonville  to  donate  the  sum 
for  the  boy's  prize.   She  v/rote  each  Federation  club  and 
urged  them  to  donate  to  the  girl's  prize  fund.   She  also 
asked  each  club  to  sponsor  a  tomato  club  in  their  respective 
counties.   She  herself  helped  establish  a  club  in  Middle- 
burg  near  the  Jennings'  Clay  County  farm.   The  awarding 
of  the  prizes  was  a  success  and  the  prizes  were  continued 
until  the  nineteen-twenties  at  which  time  agricultural 
extension  work  was  curtailed  and  the  canning  club  program 


The  Federation's  education  department  also  worked 
in  other  ways  to  improve  public  education.   In  February 
1913  May  sent  a  letter  to  each  Federation  club  outlining 
her  goals.   She  stated  that  her  committee  would  direct  every 
effort  toward  establishing  vocational  education  throughout 
the  state.   As  a  first  step  each  woman's  club  should  make 
the  school  building  in  its  own  locality  a  social  center. 
They  should  secure  a  good  storyteller  and  establish  "story 
hours"  for  the  small  children.   They  should  use  the  building 
for  fairs  and  exhibits.   They  should  assist  in  establishing 
tomato  clubs.   They  should  help  fund  the  prizes  and  the 
kindergarten  scholarship  at  the  woman's  college.   She 
pledged  that  her  committee  would  work  with  the  legislation 
committee  to  secure  an  increased  appropriation  for  the 
state  reform  school  at  Marianna,  and  that  it  would  work  to 
get  women  appointed  to  school  boards.   She  urged  each  club 

to  work  for  better  school  buildings  and  playgrounds,  and  to 

endorse  medical  inspection  and  school  hygiene  programs. 

May's  vigorous  approach  to  the  committee's  work  surprised 

many  of  the  clubwomen;  they  were  used  to  more  lethargic 

leadership.   Elizabeth  Hocker  wrote  her,  "You  certainly  have 

revolutionized  our  Education  department."     May  s  enthusi- 
asm often  had  the  desired  effect  and  inspired  her  colleagues 
to  take  action.   One  such  woman  informed  May  that  by  herself 
she  had  inspected  her  local  schools  and  had  found  "many 
faults."   The  writer  also  told  May  she  was  so  interested 


in  the  education  work  that  she  was  unable  to  "control  her 


tongue"  whenever  she  saw  something  that  needed  improvement." 

Another  clubwomen  wondered  if  the  education  department  was 

also  planning  to  work  for  women's  suffrage,  for  she  thought 

it  would  be  a  "super  subject"  for  the  committee  to  tackle. 

On  March  28,  1912,  May  was  in  Gainesville  to  address 

the  State  Conference  of  Superintendents,  Member's  of  School 

Boards,  and  High  School  Principals.   Of  the  eighty-four 

speakers  at  the  three-day  conference,  she  was  the  only  woman 

and  the  last  on  the  agenda.     She  told  the  educators  what 

the  Federation  was  doing  to  aid  education,  called  for  better 
teacher  training,  higher  salaries,  longer  school  terms, 
smaller  classes,  uniform  textbooks,  school  libraries  and 
playgrounds,  compulsory  education,  and  women  serving  on 
school  boards.   She  described  the  tomato  and  corn  clubs  and 
urged  cooperation.   She  also  urged  the  men  to  back  improve- 
ments at  the  Marianna  reform  school.   She  was  given  a  stand- 
ing ovation,  and  presented  with  a  bouquet  of  flowers,  and 
was  escorted  from  the  dais  by  William  Sheats. 

When  the  1913  Legislative  session  convened  May  and 
other  clubwomen  were  ready  for  it.   The  memorial  they  sub- 
mitted was  no  timid  document;  it  included  a  list  of  fifteen 
demands  which  the  women  wanted  the  legislators  to  act  upon. 
The  women  called  for  amendments  to  strengthen  the  1911 
juvenile  court  law;  a  $25,000  per  annum  appropriation  for 
the  reform  school;  creation  of  a  state  board  of  charities; 


enactment  of  a  comprehensive  child  labor  bill;  a  prohibi- 
tion against  newspapers  printing  gory  details  of  murders, 
executions,  and  suicides;  establishment  of  a  hospital  for 
the  feeble-minded;  a  law  prohibiting  placement  of  adver- 
tising signs  on  trees,  telephone  poles,  fences,  and  other 
structures  along  public  highways;  a  bill  allowing  women  to 
be  elected  to  school  boards;  a  law  giving  women  the  right 
to  enter  into  contracts  relating  to  their  ov/n  property;  a 

law  making  wife  and  child  desertion  a  felony;  and  one  which 

would  establish  certification  of  nurses. 

May  and  her  colleagues  worked  closely  with  the  Flori- 
da Child  Labor  Committee,  a  new  organization  which  had  been 
organized  to  promote  child  labor  legislation.   It  was  headed 
by  John  W.  Stagg  of  Orlando,  Marcus  Fagg  of  Jacksonville, 
and  Mary  E.  Randall  of  Lawtey,  a  Federation  member  and 

close  friend  of  May's.   This  committee  and  the  clubwomen 

organized  "parlour  meetings"  to  promote  their  legislation. 

They  sponsored  exhibits  and  lantern  slide  shows  to  educated 
the  public  about  the  issues.   And  while  the  legislature 
was  in  session  they  mounted  an  active  letter  writing  campaign. 
In  addition,  Julia  Lathrop  of  the  National  Children's  Bureau 
in  Washington  was  brought  to  Florida  for  a  series  of  lectures. 
Ion  Farris  and  St.  Elmo  Acosta  of  the  Duval  delegation  intro- 
duced and  guided  the  child  labor  bill  through  the  legis- 
lature.  May  knew  both  men  well.   Acosta  had  been  one  of 
the  councilmen  who  had  accompanied  her  on  the  publicized 


inspection  tour  of  the  Jacksonville  jail.   Mrs.  Farris  was 
a  clubwoman.   Mrs.  Frank  E.  Jennings,  head  of  the  Federa- 
tion's legislation  committee,  led  the  women's  lobbying 
effort  in  Tallahassee.   May,  also  spent  time  there.   She 
sent  copies  of  the  Federation's  memorial  to  the  state's 
five  major  newspapers,  and  upon  publication  she  personally 
distributed  copies  of  the  papers  to  each  member  of  the  legis- 
lature.  Fagg  and  his  associates  also  worked  at  the  capitol. 
When  the  session  was  over  many  goals  had  been  achieved. 

The  1913  legislature  voted  a  sizeable  appropriation 
of  $65,000  for  two  years  for  the  reform  school  and  reor- 
ganized the  facility,  fired  the  management,  and  renamed 
the  place  the  Florida  Industrial  School  for  Boys.   The 
legislature  also  passed  the  most  comprehensive  child  labor 
law  that  had  ever  been  enacted  in  the  state,  a  wife  and 
child  desertion  bill,  and  a  measure  authorizing  women  to 
serve  as  county  probation  officers.   It  also  enacted  laws 
regulating  the  certification  of  nurses,  strengthening  of 
the  state's  pure  food  and  drug  law,  creating  the  office  of 
rural  school  inspector,  raising  the  standards  leading  to 
teacher  certification,  and  authorizing  special  taxing  dis- 
tricts to  issue  bonds  for  public  education.   In  addition  to 
these  progressive  measures  it  enacted  conservation  laws 
which  established  a  game  and  fish  commission  and  protected 
wild  birds  and  animals,  including  the  robin.   To  May's 
personal  satisfaction  the  lawmakers  appropriated  $3,000  to 


aid  the  corn  and  tomato  clubs.   It  was  a  very  impressive 
record,  but,  of  course,  May  knew  that  there  was  more  work 
to  do.   Women  were  still  denied  full  property  or  legal 

rights,  they  could  still  not  hold  elective  office  in  the 

state,  and  there  was  yet  no  compulsory  education  law. 

After  the  session  May  returned  to  her  club  and  civic 
activities.   With  the  help  of  Caroline  Brevard  of  Talla- 
hassee, she  secured  a  United  Daughters  of  the  Confederacy 
scholarship  for  the  Woman's  College,  to  be  awarded  to  the 
girl  who  was  the  runner-up  in  the  Federation's  kindergarten 
scholarship  selection.   In  June  Governor  Trammell  appointed 
May  Florida's  delegate  to  the  seventeenth  Child  Welfare 
Conference  of  the  Parents'  and  Teacher's  Association  held 
in  Boston.   Because  of  family  obligations  she  could  not 
go  but  gave  her  proxy  to  the  secretary  of  the  Florida 
Federation  of  Mother's  Clubs,  Mrs.  Mary  P.  Brownell,  who 
reported  back  to  the  education  committee.   Selected  a 
delegate  to  the  National  Hygiene  Congress  in  Buffalo  a  month 
later,  May  was  again  unable  to  go  and  this  time  she  gave 
her  proxy  to  the  medical  inspector  of  the  Duval  County 

On  October  10,  1913,  May  spoke  before  the  Duval  County 
School  Board  at  a  public  meeting  which  was  called  to  discuss 
the  creation  of  a  taxing  district  and  the  issuance  of  school 
bonds.   She  cited  figures,  statistics,  and  laws  to  show  that 
the  money  was  direly  needed  and  that  the  proposed  tax 
district  was  the  proper  means  by  which  to  raise  the  funds. 


Other  activities  transpired  to  make  1913  a  busy 
year  for  May  Jennings.   She  became  a  sponsor  of  Pi  Beta 
Phi  sorority  at  Stetson  University,  where  her  son  was 
enrolled;  and  attended  several  of  the  sorority's  functions. 
She  joined  a  committee  to  promote  the  improvement  of  the 
Columbia  College  library  in  Lake  City,  and  she  worked  for 
the  Jacksonville  Infant  Welfare  Society.   She  accompanied 
Elizabeth  Hocker  to  Washington,  D.C.,  to  attend  a  General 
Federation  board  meeting  and  the  convention  of  the  National 

Council  for  Social  Centers.   She  wrote  an  article  on  educa- 

tion  for  a  special  woman's  issue  of  the  Miami  Herald. 

She  helped  push  a  resolution  through  the  Jacksonville 
city  council  regulating  midwifery  in  the  city.   With  the 
help  of  the  Jacksonville  Equal  Franchise  League,  she  worked 
to  get  a  Sunday  "blue  law"  passed  by  the  council.   A  modi- 
fied law  was  adopted.   She  organized  the  Jacksonville 
Woman's  Club  "legislation  day"  and  then  in  December  she 
and  her  husband  boxed  and  sent  crates  of  oranges  from  their 
private  groves  to  President  Woodrow  Wilson  and  all  the  mem- 
bers of  his  cabinet. 

It  was  also  a  year  of  trials  and  sorrow  for  the 
family.   The  Brooksville  property  demanded  much  of  May's 
time.   A  large  pecan  orchard  and  strawberry  patch  had  to  be 
managed.   Her  brother's  alcoholism  worsened  during  the  year 
and  precipitated  several  crises,  and  her  brother-in-law, 
Charles  Jennings,  took  ill  and  died  at  the  Jennings  home 


in  November.   Perhaps  she  yearned,  like  her  friend  Lena 

Shackleford,  "for  the  good  old  Brooksville  days  when  they 


lived  the  simple  life."     But  May  never  had  time  to  look 

back;  she  was  too  busy  making  plans  for  the  new  year. 

The  whole  of  1914  was  a  whirlwind  of  activity.   The 
pace  May  set  for  herself  was  terrific.   In  January  she 
secured  the  woman's  club's  building  for  a  lecture  and  slide 
show,  which  was  presented  by  Dr.  Eugene  Swope,  field  agent 
of  the  Florida  Audubon  Society.   That  same  month  she  met 
with  Mrs.  Frank  E.  Jennings  and  her  legislation  committee 
to  discuss  the  new  year.   The  legislature  would  not  be  in 
session,  but  both  agreed  that  there  was  much  publicity  work 
and  friendly  preparatory  lobbying  which  could  be  done.   May 
Jennings   and  Minerva  Jennings,  while  rivals,  respected 
each  other's  opinions  and  abilities  and  cooperated  with  one 
another  for  the  good  of  the  Federation. 

In  February  May  attended  the  third  annual  Conference 
of  Florida  Charities  and  Corrections  in  Gainesville.   Marcus 
Fagg  was  then  secretary  of  the  organization.   She  also 
attended  that  month  the  first  annual  meeting  of  the  Jackson- 
ville Infant  Welfare  Society  and  journeyed  to  Tallahassee 
for  a  Federation  board  meeting  and  to  confer  with  Miss 

Harris.   Later  she  led  a  discussion  at  the  Jacksonville 

VJoman's  Club  on  practical  politics.     She  travled  to  Deland 

for  a  Pi  Phi  social  function. 


Even  with  her  travels,  conventions,  and  speaking 
engagements  May  maintained  a  volumnious  correspondence.   She 
had  become  the  defacto  president  of  the  Federation  because 
Mrs.  Hocker  did  not  like  to  travel  and  was  not  as  good  a 
public  speaker.   May  began  to  attend  to  the  organization's 
many  needs.   Scores  of  letters  arrived  almost  daily,  seek- 
ing advice  on  how  to  form  a  woman's  club,  how  to  become  a 
member  of  the  Federation,  how  to  set  up  an  education  com- 
mittee, how  to  present  a  public  meeting,  and  so  on.   It 
was  more  than  one  woman  could  handle  and  she  had  to  employ 
a  stenographer  to  help  out.   She  paid  the  woman's  wages 
and  the  Federation  furnished  supplies  and  postage. 

May  received  many  requests  to  speak  and  appear  at 
club  functions.   Most  of  these  invitations  had  to  be 
rejected;  there  was  just  not  enough  time  to  do  everything. 
While  all  correspondence  was  conscientiously  answered,  May 
selected  her  personal  appearances  carefully.   Only  the 
more  important  functions  were  attended,  although  she  tried 
to  visit  as  many  clubs  as  possible  as  she  traveled  around 
the  state. 

In  March  1914,  May  spoke  for  the  second  time  before 
the  convention  of  superintendents  and  leading  Florida 
educators.   The  meeting  was  held  in  Fort  Myers.   Mrs.  Edna 
Fuller  of  Orlando,  chairman  of  the  Federation's  civics 
department,  also  was  on  the  program.   May  called  for 
cooperation  between  the  Federation  and  state  educators. 


She  outlined  the  work  of  the  Federation's  education  depart- 
ment, described  the  women's  hopes  for  the  coming  years,  and 
put  the  men  on  notice  that  it  was  time  to  "agitate  force- 
fully for  a  compulsory  education  lav/.  "     While  in  Fort 
Myers  she  was  feted  by  the  local  woman's  club  and  toured 
Thomas  Edison's  winter  home. 

Upon  her  return  to  Jacksonville  May  continued  her 
busy  schedule.   She  helped  Marcus  Fagg  conduct  the  Children's 
Home  Society's  annual  Re-Union  Week,  and  invited  Marie  Ran- 
dall of  Lawtey,  chairman  of  the  Federation's  social  condi- 
tions department,  to  speak  before  Jacksonville  clubwomen. 
Later  in  the  month  she  met  with  Jacksonville  probation 
officials  about  the  local  juvenile  delinquency  problems  and 
she  presented  a  petition,  to  retain  the  city's  school  nurses, 
to  the  school  board.   The  nurses  were  retained.   Finally, 
she  wrote  all  Federation  clubs  urging  them  to  wire  their 
Congressmen  in  support  of  the  Smith-Lever  Agricultural 
Extension  bill  which  was  mired  in  the  Congress. 

In  June,  1914,   May  attended  her  first  General 
Federation  convention.   It  was  held  in  Chicago  and  she 
enjoyed  it  immensely,  especially  meeting  intelligent,  hard- 
working women  like  herself  who  were  committed   to  progres- 
sive change.   She  heard  addresses  by  Jane  Addams,  of  Hull 

House  fame,  and  by  Carrie  Chapman  Catts,  the  feminist. 

After  the  convention  the  Jennings  took  a  brief  holiday  in 

North  Carolina.   Upon  returning  to  Jacksonville  May  received 


a  telegram  summoning  her  to  Bar  Harbor,  Maine,  where  her 
father,  Austin  Mann,  was  gravely  ill.   He  died  shortly  after 
her  arrival.   The  funeral  was  held  at  the  Jennings'  home 
and  interment   was  in  Evergreen  Cemetery.   Hundreds  of 
prominent  people  from  around  the  state  attended  the  services. 

May  bore  her  loss  with  dignity  and  fortitude,  but 
she  missed  her  papa  terribly,  for  the  two  had  remained  very 
close  to  the  end.   By  the  middle  of  October,  however,  she 
was  again  deep  into  clubwork.   The  twentieth  annual  Federa- 
tion convention  was  only  a  month  away,  and  she  was  busy 
preparing  a  canning  demonstration  and  an  education  exhibit 
for  the  delegates.   The  1914  convention,  which  was  held  at 
Lakeland,  was  a  watermark  event.   The  Florida  Federation  of 
Women's  Clubs  was  now  almost  twenty  years  old.   It  was  a 
mature  and  viable  organization;  few  officials  failed  to 
recognize  its  political  strength.   Scores  of  women's  clubs 
from  around  the  state  now  belonged  to  the  organization, 
though  there  were  still  a  few  maverick  holdouts  in  the 

The  convention  convened  on  Tuesday,  November  19,  in 
the  Lakeland  civic  auditorium.   The  women  filled  the  hotels 
and  overflowed  into  private  homes.   Receptions  were  held  in 
the  Kibler  Hotel.   Many  delegates  displayed  the  green  and 
gold  ribbons  of  the  Federation.   The  women  were  reminded 
that  no  hats  were  to  be  worn  in  the  auditorium  so  that 
everyone  would  have  an  unrestricted  view  of  the  proceedings. 


After  the  usual  welcomes  and  greetings  by  local  officials, 
a  piano  concerto  was  performed  by  a  clublady  and  Mrs. 
Hocker  gave  her  farewell  address. 

Official  business  began  the  following  day.   Reports 
from  seventy-two  clubs  described  the  achievements  and 
successes  all  over  Florida.   May's  report  on  the  education 
department  was  fourteen  typewritten  pages  long.   There  were 
also  talks  by  William  Sheats,  Dr.  J.Y.  Porter,  and  Judge 
William  H.  Baker.   Election  of  a  new  slate  of  officers 
occurred  on  the  third  and  last  day  of  the  meeting.   There 
was  no  doubt  about  who  would  be  named  president.   May 
Jennings  was  the  unanimous  choice. 

A  cheer  rose  from  the  auditorium  when  it  was  announced 
that  she  had  won  the  election.   She  gave  a  short  speech  and 
the  delegates  began  immediately  discussing  their  legisla- 
tive program.   There  was  a  call  for  a  compulsory  education 
law,  establishment  of  a  state  forestry  board,  a  state  board 
of  charities,  and  a  state  bureau  of  vital  statistics.   Also 
desired  was  a  girls'  industrial  training  school,  a  state 
tuberculosis  sanitorium,  a  school  for  the  feeble-minded,  a 
law  allowing  women  to  serve  on  school  boards,  and  passage 
of  a  prohibition  amendment.   A  banquet  was  held  that  night 
in  the  hotel.   The  mantle  was  passed.   May  took  her  pledge 
to  fulfill  her  duties  faithfully  and  to  uphold  the  objectives 
of  the  Federation.   She  was  now  forty-two  years  old  and  the 
most  politically  powerful  woman  in  the  state;  she  knew  what 
to  do  with  that  power. 


Notes  to  Chapter  VI 

The  Woman's  Club,  Jacksonville,  1897-98,  Yearbook, 
n.p.   For  a  history  of  the  club  see  Noble,  Woman '  s  Club  of 
Jacksonville,  Golden  Jubilee  Issue:  1897-1947  (Jacksonville, 
1947)  . 



Jacksonvxlle  Dixie,  November  8,  1912. 


Blackman,  The  Women  of  Florida,  I.,  p.  128. 

Sanford  Herald,  undated,  quoted  in  biographical 
sketch  of  May  Mann  Jennings,  1919.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  16. 

"Railroad  Resolution,"  Jacksonville  Woman's  Club, 
July  19  06.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  3. 

Jacksonville  Metropolis,  July  24,  1906. 


Ibid. ,  November  23,  1907. 


Janie  Smith  Rhyne,  Our  Yesterday  (Marianna,  Florida, 

1968) ,  n.p. 

Jacksonville  clubwomen  began  work  to  secure  a  juvenile 
court  system  in  the  state  in  1906.   See  Jacksonville  Metro- 
polis, November  15,  19  06. 

"Memorial  to  the  Legislature,"  April,  1907.   MMJ 
Papers,  Box  3. 


Laws  of  Florida,  1907,  Chapter  5686,  No.  91.   The 

1901  legislature  had  passed  a  child .labor  bill  but  it  was 
weak  and  ineffective. 


"Resolution,"  Jacksonville  Woman's  Club,  March  20, 

19  09.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  3. 


Gilchrist,  a  bachelor,  and  his  mother  were  frequent 

guests  in  the  Jennings'  Jacksonville  home.   At  his  inaugural 

ball  Gilchrist  danced  the  first  dance  with  May  Jennings.   It 

was  noted  that  she  wore  the  same  gown  she  had  worn  to  her 

husband's  inaugural  ball.   Jacksonville  Metropolis,  January 

6,  19  09. 


"Memorial  on  the  Child  Labor  Lav;,"  Jacksonville 

Woman's  Club.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  3. 


Blackman,  The  Women  of  Florida,  I,  p.  139. 

17m  , 

Telegram.   May  Jennings  to  Mrs.  Charles  A.  Cay  [1911] 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  3. 

Jacksonville  Metropolis,  November  22,  1907. 


Ibid. ,  November  27,  1907. 


Ibid.,  February  10,  1908.   Also  see  Paul  S.  George, 
"A  Cyclone  Hits  Miami:  Carrie  Nation's  Visit  to  the  Kicked 
City,"  Florida  Historical  Quarterly,  LVIII,  October,  1979, 
PP.  150-159. 


Jacksonville  Metropolis,  December  19,  1908. 


Ibid. ,  January  27,  1909. 


"Report  of  Jail  Committee,"  May  22,  1911.   MMJ 
Papers,  Box  3. 


Jacksonville  PAR  (n.d.),  n.p. 


Charter,  Jacksonville  Y.W.C.A.,  February  11,  1911. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  3. 


May  Jennings  to  W.S.  Jennings,  February  19,  1911. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  3. 


Letty  M.  Fifield,  History  of  Jacksonville  Y.W.C.A. 
(Jacksonville,  1950) ,  p.  l77~  ' ~ 


Young  Women's  Christian  Association,  1912-13,  Year- 
book (Jacksonville,  n.d.);  for  short  histories  of  the  Jack- 
sonville YWCA  see  Jacksonville  Florida  Times-Union,  February 
12,  1950,  March  25,  1951.       


Speech,  "Personal  Service."   MMJ  Papers,  Box  3. 


Jacksonville  Florida  Times-Union,  December  13,  1912. 


Susan  Wight  to  May  Jennings  [1913].  MMJ  Papers, 
Box  3. 


Blackman,  The  Women  of  Florida,  I,  p.  141. 


Edna  Fuller  to  May  Jennings  [1913] .  MMJ  Papers, 
Box  3;  Lucretia  Mote  to  May  Jennings,  May  15,  1913.  MMJ 
Papers,  Box  3. 


Jacksonville  Florida  Times-Union,  March  1,  1913. 



Mother's  Clubs,  organized  during  the  first  decade 

of  the  twentieth-century,  were  the  forerunners  of  Parent- 
Teacher  Associations. 

Florida  School  Exponent,  XVII,  June,  1910,  p.  12. 


The  1914  Smith-Lever  Act  made  rural  extension  work 

one  of  the  nation's  domestic  priorities. 

3  8 

"Education  Committee  Report,"  F.F.W.C.,  February, 

1913.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  3. 


Agnes  E.  Harris  to  May  Jennings,  February  15,  1913. 

MMJ  Papers,  Box  3. 


"Education  Committee  Report,"  F.F.W.C.  February, 

1913.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  3. 


Elizabeth  Hocker  to  May  Jennings,  August  27,  1913. 

MMJ  Papers,  Box  3. 

Mary  Brownell  to  May  Jennings,  October  19,  1913. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  3. 

Katherine  Boyles  to  May  Jennings,  December  6,  1913. 
MMJ  Papers ,  Box  3 . 

Jacksonville  Florida  Times-Union,  March  30,  1913. 

"Memorial,"  Jacksonville  Woman's  Club,  April,  1913. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  3. 


Emily  Howard  Atkins,  "The  1913  Campaign  for  Child 

Labor  in  Florida,"  Florida  Historical  Quarterly   XXXVI, 

January,  1957. 

"Legislation  Committee  Report,"  Jacksonville  Women's 
Club,  May,  1913.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  3. 


Miami  Herald,  August  7,  1913. 


Lena  Shackleford  to  May  Jennings,  October  20,  1913. 

MMJ  Papers,  Box  3. 

50Speech,  "Practical  Politics,"  February  12,  1914. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  4. 


Speech  before  Florida  Education  Association  annual 

convention,  March  12,  1914.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  4. 


Program,  GFWC,  Biennial  Convention,  Chicago,  1914. 

MMJ  Papers,  Box  4. 


Under  May  Jennings'  guidance  the  Florida  Federation 
of  Women's  Clubs  increased  in  numbers  and  in  political 
strength.   During  her  three  year  tenure  fifty-nine  new  clubs 
joined  the  Federation,  and  its  membership  rose  from  5,24  6 
to  9,16  3.   The  Federation  became  one  of  the  state's  largest 
organizations.   Its  goals  during  May's  first  year  as  presi- 
dent were  those  that  had  been  determined  at  the  Lakeland 
convention.   To  this  list  was  quietly  added  one  other,  which 
had  been  on  the  Federation's  books  since  1905.   It  was  the 
conservation  resolution  which  called  for  the  preservation 
of  a  Royal  Palm  hammock  on  Paradise  Key,  an  Everglades  islet 
twelve  miles  southwest  of  Homestead  in  Dade  County.   As  soon 
as  May's  election  as  president  was  confirmed,  clubwomen 
from  South  Florida,  who  were  attending  the  convention,  ap- 
proached her  to  urge  her  to  revive  the  resolution  and  join 
them  in  an  effort  to  save  the  endangered  hammock.   These 
women  were  led  by  Mary  Barr  Munroe ,  wife  of  the  distinguished 
author  Xirk  Munroe,  and  by  Edith  Gifford,  wife  of  John 
Gifford,  former  professor  from  Cornell  University  and  a 
forestry  expert  who  now  lived  in  Coconut  Grove. 

The  women  spoke  to  May  about  the  long  forgotten  and 
moribund  Federation  resolution  to  preserve  the  key.   They 



described  the  magnificent  stand  of  Royal  Palms  and  lush 
tropical  vegetation  which  grew  on  the  key,  and  told  her 
about  past  efforts  to  preserve  the  hammock  which  had  been 
undertaken  by  their  husbands  and  other  naturalists  and 
scientists  including  H.P.  Rolfs,  forestry  professor  at  the 
University  of  Florida;  N.L.  Britton,  director  of  the  New 
York  Botanical  Garden;  Charles  Simpson,  operator  of  a 
private  botanical  garden  in  Dade  County;  Edward  Simmonds, 
chief  botanist  for  the  agriculture  department  in  Dade 
County;  David  Fairchild,  who  headed  the  United  States 
Office  of  Foreign  Seed  and  Plant  Introduction  in  Coconut 
Grove;  and  James  K.  Small,  curator  of  the  New  York  Botani- 
cal Garden.   Over  the  years  each  of  these  men  had  visited 
Paradise  Key  to  admire  and  study  its  palms  and  vegetation, 
and  since  1893  they  had  been  trying  to  get  the  national 
government  to  preserve  the  hammock.   Now  in  1914  it  was 
more  imperative  than  ever  that  something  be  done,  for  the 
hammock  was  in  danger  of  being  destroyed.   Surveyors  and 
road  crews  were  at  that  very  moment  mapping  the  area  for 
future  development.   Flagler's  Key  West  extension  lay  only 
a  few  miles  east  of  the  key,  and  a  road  from  Homestead  to 
Flamingo  was  in  the  planning  stages. 

May  was  captivated  by  what  she  heard  from  the  women 
and  was  moved  by  their  pleas  for  help.   She  had  never  visited 
the  key,  but  she  had  always  liked  South  Florida  and  was  her- 
self at  that  time  drawing  up  plans  for  the  construction  of 


a  vacation  home  on  the  Jennings'  property  in  Miami.   She 
knew  from  her  earlier  travels  with  her  husband  to  inspect 
the  dredges  and  drainage  canals  that  the  area  was  beginning 
to  be  affected  by  the  encroachment  of  modern  society.   She 
realized  that  the  construction  of  roads  into  the  interior 
would  probably  mean  that  much  of  the  wild  and  serenely 
beautiful  Everglades  would  be  lost  forever.   Then  and  there, 
only  hours  after  her  election  as  president  of  the  Federation, 
she  decided  to  make  the  preservation  of  Paradise  Key  one 
of  the  main  goals  of  her  administration.   Her  decision  was 
to  have  historic  and  far-reaching  consequences  for  Florida 
and  was  to  cause  her  to  dedicate  much  of  her  life  to  the 
effort  of  saving  the  key  and  the  surrounding  Everglades. 
The  decision  launched  her  upon  a  political,  economic,  and 
public  relations  struggle  which  was  to  span  thirty-three 
years.   But,  in  1914   the  future  lay  far  away,  and  May  was 
confident  that  the  Federation  could  save  the  key.   She  had 
no  illusions,  however,  that  the  job  would  be  easy. 

Before  May's  tenure  as  Federation  president  reached 
an  end,  many  of  the  organization's  major  goals  would  be 
achieved,  for  under  her  guidance  the  Federation  would  wield 
even  greater  effective  political  power.   May  Jennings  was 
the  type  of  bold,  politically  adroit  leader  that  the 
organization  needed.   She  was  to  make  use  of  one  of  the 
Federation's  most  interesting  and  important  characteristics, 
its  unique  old-girl  network,  a  framev/ork  of  statewide 


friendships  among  the  clubwomen,  many  of  whom  were  related 
to  the  state's  most  powerful  male  business,  political,  and 
civic  leaders.   This  network,  which  had  been  building  in 
the  Federation  for  nearly  two  decades,  was  used  very  effec- 
tively during  May's  administration.   While  it  had  always 
been  present  to  some  extent,  it  had  not  been  used  very  much 
by  past  presidents.   May  could  not  ignore  the  Federation's 
most  important  and  only  real  political  weapon — its  family 
and  friendship  connections.   To  outside  observers  the 
Federation  was  a  seemingly  weak  organization  composed  of 
tea  drinking,  non-voting  citizens  who  could  not  even  hold 
public  office  or  exercise  much  political  leverage.   But 
during  May's  tenure  the  Federation  was  to  use  the  old-girl 
network  to  good  advantage  to  gain  access  into  the  state's 
highest  circles  of  power. 

All  that  an  aggressive  and  perceptive  Federation 
president  needed  to  make  contact  with  a  particular  official 
or  business  leader  was  to  call  upon  the  Federation  network. 
Through  it  one  could  gain  entre  into  the  governor's  mansion, 
the  legislature,  the  courts,  state  boards  and  commissions, 
county  commissions,  and  town  and  village  councils.   Of 
course  this  entrance  was  achieved  in  an  unorthodox  and 
roundabout  way,  but  it  was  effective,  for  no  Federation 
tactic  ever  proved  more  potent  than  the  one  that  reached 
the  state's  leaders  through  their  families.   Arguments  and 
persuasions  which  came  from  female  relatives--mothers ,  wives, 


and  daughters — often  proved  irresistible.   Understandably 
the  men  might  be  more  receptive  to  the  urgings  of  their  own 
women  folk  than  to  demands  coming  from  nameless  numbers  of 
clubwomen.   The  personal  approach  inherent  in  the  old-girl 
network  proved  critical  to  the  Federation's  success.   If 
the  men  could  not  believe  and  respect  the  opinions  and 
desires  of  their  own  wives,  daughters,  mothers,  and  sisters, 
who  were  Federation  members,  then  who  could  they  believe? 
At  times,  even  the  southern  "cult  of  womanhood"  worked  in 
the  Federation's  favor,  for   because  of  it  the  men  were 
disposed  to  give  the  women  respectful,  if  gruding,  audiences. 
But,  it  was  the  old-girl  network  that  really  aided  the 
Federation  and  which  May  relied  upon  the  most  often  to 
gain  "the  ear"  of  Florida  officials  and  politicians. 

Of  course,  not  every  male  in  government  said  yes  to 
the  women  in  his  family,  whether  or  not  they  happened  to  be 
Federation  members.   Most  remained  stolid  and  unsympathetic 
to  the  women's  goals,  but  enough  of  them  were  softened  by 
the  approaches  of  their  female  relatives  to  make  a  real 
difference.   On  many  occasions  it  was  these  first  family 
contacts  which  smoothed  the  way  for  May  ahd  her  officers 
and  allowed  them  to  present  the  Federation's  case  or  do  its 
lobbying  work.   The  use  of  the  network  was  not  a  rigid  or 
elaborate  scheme  used  by  the  women  to  trick  the  men  into 
acquiescing.   There  was  nothing  sinister  about  it.   It  was 
the  natural,  logical,  and  undevious  use  of  a  political  tool 


which  was  obvious  for  the  women.   The  charge  of  using  "woman- 
ly wiles"  on  such  a  grand  scale  to  gain  support  for  Federa- 
tion goals  cannot  be  sustained,  but  the  accusation  that 
the  women  used  all  of  their  family  connections  to  reach  the 
right  people  and  further  their  cause  is  true.   Men  had 
always  used  an  old-boy  network;  indeed,  politics  sometimes 
seemed  to  be  no  more  than  a  system  based  entirely  upon 
friendships,  contacts,  and  loyalties.   Thus,  the  women  were 
using  something  which  had  finally  become  available  to  them 
as  it  had  been  for  so  long  to  the  men. 

The  well-placed  family  connections  that  the  old-girl 
network  brought  to  the  Federation  were  impressive  and  could 
not  be  denied.   During  her  three  year  tenure  as  Federation 
president  May  called  upon  the  services  of  perhaps  100  of  the 
organization's  most  prominent  members,  each  of  whom  was 
wife,  mother,  or  daughter  of  a  governor,  legislator,  supreme 
court  justice,  congressman,  state  official,  judge,  journalist, 
university  president,  businessman,  pioneer  developer,  or 
local  official.   For  instance,  those  who  served  on  the 
Federation's  all-important  legislation  committee  during  May's 
administration  included  Mary  Wright  Drane  (Lakeland) ,  wife 
of  Herbert  J.  Drane,  former  member  of  the  state  House  and 
a  state  Senator  during  the  1913  and  1915  sessions;  Allie 
Farris  (Jacksonville),  wife  of  Ion  L.  Farris,  ex-speaker  of 
the  House  and  member  of  the  Senate  during  the  1915  and  1917 
sessions;  Ella  Burford  (Ocala) ,  wife  of  Robert  A.  Burford, 


former  member  of  the  House  and  a  Marion  County  official; 
Dycie  Sweger  (Live  Oak) ,  wife  of  Roy  L.  Sweger,  who  edited 
the  Gadsen  County  Times  and  later  served  in  both  the  Florida 
House  and  the  Senate;  Lena  Shackleford,  wife  of  Thomas  Shackle- 
ford,  who  served  on  the  supreme  court  from  1902  until  1917; 
Ruby  Whitfield  (Tallahassee) ,  wife  of  C.  Talbot  Whitfield, 
private  secretary  to  Governors  Gilchrist  and  Trammel 1;  Minerva 
Jennings  (Jacksonville),  wife  of  Frank  E.  Jennings,  member  of 
the  State  Board  of  Control  and  later  a  member  of  the  House; 
Margaret  Young  (Jacksonville) ,  wife  of  William  B.  Young,  the 
state's  judge  advocate  general  and  later  a  House  member;  Jessie 
Hilburn  (Palatka) ,  wife  of  Samuel  Hilburn  who  served  in  the 
190  8  House  and  the  1911  Senate;  Bell  Rood  (New  Smyrna) ,  wife 
of  Henry  Rood,  owner  of  the  New  Smyrna  News;  Rose  Wilson 
(Sarasota) ,  wife  of  C.  V.  Wilson,  former  member  of  the  1903, 
1905,  and  1907  House  and  owner  of  the  Sarasota  Times ;  Maggie 
Davis  (Perry),  wife  of  William  B.  Davis,  Taylor  County  judge; 
Ida  Dunn  (Tallahassee),  wife  of  Royal  C.  Dunn,  state  railroad 
commissioner;  Lina  L'Engle  Barnett  (Jacksonville),  wife  of 
Bion  H.  Barnett,  founder  of  the  Barnett  banking  empire; 
Catherine  Phillips  (Jacksonville),  wife  of  Henry  B.  Phillips, 
circuit  judge  of  Duval  County;  Eugenia  Roberts  (Key  West), 
wife  of  E.  0.  Roberts,  ex-House  member  and  Monroe  County 
state  attorney;  Ninah  Cummer  (Jacksonville) ,  wife  of  Arthur 
G.  Cummer,  co-owner  of  the  state's  largest  lumber  mill  and 
naval  stores  company;  Frances  Anderson  (Jacksonville),  activist, 


and  daughter  of  prominent  attorney  Herbert  L.  Anderson; 
and  Antoinette  Frederick  (Miami),  widow  of  that  city's  first 
civil  engineer,  attorney,  and  land  developer,  John  S. 

During  May's  tenure  nearly  all  of  the  Federation's 
committees  had  members  whose  family  connections  were  promi- 
nent.  Her  major  officers  and  board  of  directors  included: 
Mary  Gorenson  Moore  (Miami) ,  wife  of  T.  Vivian  Moore,  devel- 
oper, ex-legislator,  and  South  Florida's  "pineapple  king"; 
Florence  Cay  (Tallahassee) ,  wife  of  Charles  A.  Cay,  Leon 
County  legislator  and  civic  leader  ("Flo"  Cay,  a  confidant 
of  May's,  ran  a  boarding  house  favored  by  legislators  and 
was  therefore  able  to  keep  abreast  of  the  public  and  not 
so  public  happenings  at  the  Capitol) ;  Ora  Minium  (Jackson- 
ville) ,  wife  of  Harry  B.  Minium,  member  of  the  State  Board 
of  Control;  Kate  V.  Jackson  (Tampa) ,  daughter  of  John  Jack- 
son ,  one  of  the  founders  of  that  city;  Elizabeth  Hocker 
(Ocala) ,  daughter-in-law  of  William  Hocker,  state  supreme 
court  justice  from  1903  to  1915;  Ella  Brown  (Green  Cove 
Springs) ,  wife  of  T.J.  Brown,  ex-legislator  and  civic 
leader;  and  Lucy  Wamboldt  (Jacksonville) ,  wife  of  Nelson  C. 
Wamboldt,  city  councilman. 

Dollie  Hendley  (Dade  City) ,  wife  of  Jefferson  A. 
Hendley,  Pasco  County  pioneer  and  former  legislator,  served 
on  the  Federation's  civics  committee,  as  did  Mrs.  John  E. 
Avery  (Pensacola)  ,  who  v/as  married  to  a  member  of  the 


House.   The  Federation  press,  i.e.  publicity,  committee 
was  equally  well-staffed.   It  included  Nelle  Worthington 

(Tampa),  who  was  married  to  Justin  E.  Worthington,  editor 
of  the  Tampa  Times;  and  Majory  Stoneman  Douglas  (Miami) , 
whose  father  was  editor  and  co-owner  of  the  Miami  Herald. 

Conservation  was  one  of  the  Federation's  largest 
and  most  active  committees,  and  it  was  concerned  with  bird 
protection,  forestry,  waterways,  good  roads,  and  Seminole 
Indians.   The  well-connected  women  who  served  on  this 
committee  included  Julia  Hanson  (Fort  Myers) ,  wife  of  a 
pioneer  doctor  and  mother  of  a  state  bird  warden  and  Seminole 
Indian  agent;  Mrs.  James  Paul  (High  Springs),  whose  husband 
served  in  the  1915  House;  Edith  Gifford  (Coconut  Grove) , 
wife  of  John  Gifford,  author  and  forestry  expert;  Maria 
Ingraham  (St.  Augustine) ,  wife  of  James  E.  Ingraham,  presi- 
dent of  Flager's  Model  Land  Company;  Mary  Barr  Munroe 

(Coconut  Grove) ,  authoress  and  wife  of  Kirk  Munroe;  Eliza- 
beth McDonald  (Stuart) ,  wife  of  Jackson  McDonald,  mayor  of 
his  town;  Ethelyn  Overstreet  (Orlando) ,  wife  of  Moses 
Over street,  banker  and  future  state  senator;  Mrs.  W.J. 
Tweedell  (Homestead) ,  wife  of  a  Dade  County  Commissioner; 
Ivy  Stranahan  (Fort  Lauderdale),  whose  husband,  Frank 
Stranahan,  was  a  pioneer  developer  and  Seminole  Indian  trader, 
Minnie  Moore  Willson  (Kissimmee)  ,  whose  husband  James  Will- 
son,  was  president  of  the  Florida  Waterway  Association  and 
a  co-founder,  along  with  her,  of  the  Friends  of  Florida 


Seminoles  organization;  Ella  Dimick  (Palm  Beach) ,  who  was 
married  to  Captain  Elisha  N.  Dimick,  former  House  and  Senate 
member  and  a  pioneer  banker  and  developer;  Eugenia  Davis 
(Tallahassee),  whose  husband,  George  I.  Davis,  had  played 
a  prominent  role  at  the  1885  Constitution  Convention  and 
was  Leon  County's  postmaster;  and,  finally,  Jane  Fisher 
(Miami) ,  wife  of  Carl  G.  Fisher,  entrepreneur  and  developer 
of  Miami  Beach. 

The  Federation's  education  committee  was  composed  of 
Sudie  B.  Wright  (Lakeland) ,  whose  husband,  George  Wright, 
had  founded  Wright  Coffee  Importing  Company;  Mrs.  T.J. 
McBeath  (Jasper) ,  whose  husband  was  past  editor  of  the 
Florida  School  Exponent;  Allison  Locke  (Jacksonville) , 
daughter  of  Judge  James  W.  Locke,  of  the  Fifth  Circuit 
Court  of  Appeals;  Mrs.  Walter  Corbett  (Jacksonville) ,  whose 
husband  headed  Prudential  Insurance  Company;  and  Virginia 
Darby  Trammell  (Lakeland-Tallahassee) ,  wife  of  Park  Trammell, 
the  governor  of  Florida. 

Iva  Sproule-Baker  (Miami) ,  who  with  her  husband 
owned  a  prominent  music  academy,  served  on  the  Federation's 
music  committee,  along  with  Lucretia  Mote  (Leesburg) ,  a 
graduate  of  the  New  England  Conservatory  of  Music,  and  wife 
of  E.H.  Mote,  ex-legislator  and  central  Florida  citrus 
tycoon.   The  public  health  committee  contained  three  female 
medical  doctors,  Dr.  Ellen  Lowell  Stevens  (Jacksonville) , 
Dr.  Grace  Whitford  (Ozona) ,  and  Dr.  Sarah  E.  Wheeler 


(Lakeland) ,  and  one  woman  dentist,  Dr.  Emma  Dickinson 
(Orange  City).   The  Federation's  home  economics  committee 
was  served  by  Pattie  Monroe  (Miami) ,  wife  of  A.  Leight 
Monroe,  prominent  doctor  and  civic  leader;  Mrs.  V7.T.  Gary 
(Ocala) ,  whose  husband  served  in  the  state  Senate;  Agnes 
Ellen  Harris  (Tallahassee)  dean  of  the  home  economics 
department  at  Florida  State  College  for  Women;  and  by  Mrs. 
A.W.  Young  (Vero) ,  whose  husband  had  served  in  both  the 
state  House  and  Senate. 

May  also  felt  free  to  call  upon  Lucy  Blackman  (Winter 
Park) ,  wife  of  William  F.  Blackman,  president  of  Rollins 
College;  Katherine  B.  Tippetts  (St.  Petersburg) ,  owner  of 
the  Belmont  Hotel  and  a  well-known  authoress;  Annie  Broward 
(Jacksonville) ,  wife  of  former  governor  Napoleon  Bonaparte 
Broward  and  now  head  of  a  large  tugboat  company;  Soledad 
Safford  (Tarpon  Springs) ,  widow  of  the  former  governor  of 
Arizona;  Dorothy  Conradi  (Tallahassee) ,  wife  of  Edward 
Conradi,  president  of  the  Florida  State  College  for  V7omen; 
Lula  Paine  Fletcher  (Jacksonville) ,  wife  of  United  States 
Senator  Duncan  U.  Fletcher;  Eloise  Hulley  (Deland) ,  wife  of 
Lincoln  Hulley) ,  president  of  Stetson  University;  Elizabeth 
Skinner  (Dunedin) ,  daughter  of  Lee  Skinner,  west  coast 
pioneer  and  owner  of  the  state's  largest  citrus  grove;  Edna 
Fuller  (Orlando),  who  was  to  become  Florida's  first  female 
legislator;  and  Halle  Uarlow  (Orlando) ,  wife  of  Picton 
Warlow,  judge  of  the  Orange  County  criminal  court. 


The  old-girl  network  presented  a  formidable  and 
powerful  pressure  group.   In  addition  to  the  core  of  the 
network  there  were  hundreds  of  Federation  rank  and  file 
members  who  were  related  to  local  businessmen,  bankers, 
political  leaders,  and  city  and  county  officials.   Thus  if 
one  examines  the  network  as  just  outlined  one  can  better 
understand  its  potency  for  among  the  women's  families  are 
one  sitting  governor,  three  ex-governors,  one  United  States 
Senator,  nineteen  state  legislators,  six  prominent  jour- 
nalists, two  state  supreme  court  justices,  one  state  rail- 
road commissioner,  two  members  of  the  state  Board  of  Control, 
three  state  judges,  a  private  secretary  to  two  governors, 
three  college  presidents,  and  a  host  of  prominent  business- 
men, bankers,  and  civic  leaders.   The  network  was  indeed  a 
part  of  Florida's  establishment.   It  is  easy  to  see  why  the 
Federation  could  get  many  things  accomplished. 

As  soon  as  May  returned  to  Jacksonville  from  the 
Lakeland  meeting  that  had  elected  her  president  of  the 
Federation  she  began  her  work.   Her  first  use  of  the 
Federation's  old-girl  network  was  on  behalf  of  Paradise 
Key.   The  women  from  South  Florida  had  notified  her  that 
Flagler's  widow  Mary  Kenan  Flagler,  had  offered  to  donate 
960  acres  of  Paradise  Key  and  surrounding  land  to  help 
preserve  the  hammock.   News  of  this  offer  had  been  relayed 
by  James  Ingraham  to  Kirk  Munroe,  and  hence  to  Mary  Munroe , 
an  avid  conservationist  and  bird  lover.   May  immediately 


recognized  the  significance  of  this  offer  and  developed  a 
plan  for  the  Federation  to  save  the  hammock.   She  felt  that 
with  the  Flagler  gift  the  state  might  also  be  willing  to 
donate  the  remaining  land  for  a  park  provided  it  would  not 
have  to  assume  maintenance  of  it.   Could  the  Federation 
maintain  and  operate  a  public  park?   It  was  a  bold  idea. 

In  early  December,  1914,  May  wrote  a  letter  to 
Federation  officers  describing  the  hammock,  setting  forth 
her  plan  to  develop  it  as  a  park,  and  asking  for  opinions. 
If  they  approved  she  wanted  them  to  accompany  her  to  Talla- 
hassee to  speak  to  Governor  Trammell  and  other  state 
officials.   She  knew  she  would  need  the  support  of  the 
Federation's  officers.   Many  agreed  that  preservation  of 
the  hammock  would  be  a  fine  civic  gesture,  but  several  of 
the  women  questioned  the  feasibility  of  the  Federation  alone 
assuming  such  a  financial  burden.    This  kind  of  opposition 
was  to  crop  up  several  years  hence  and  seriously  jeopardize 
the  project.   Fortunately,  the  doubters  were  in  the 
minority,  and  May  proceeded  with  her  plans,  including  a 
request  for  a  $1,000  annual  state  appropriation  for  the 
park.   When  no  one  volunteered  to  accompany  her  to  Talla- 
hassee, she  went  alone.   The  old-girl  network  smoothed 
her  way,  however.   Florence  Cay  telephoned  Virginia  Trammell 

to,  as  Mrs.  Cay  described  it,  "touch  upon  the  subject  of 


the  hammock."    Mrs.  Trammell  was  cautious  but  encouraging 

and  said  she  would  speak  to  the  governor.   This  was  just 


the  first  of  many  instances  v/here  May  would  make  use  of 
the  Federation's  network  to  assess  attitudes  and  contact 
important  people. 

May  proceeded  with  her  visit  to  Tallahassee.   She 
also  scheduled  a  trip  to  South  Florida  to  see  the  hammock 
for  herself.   As  Rose  Lewis,  of  Fort  Pierce  and  a  Federa- 
tion vice-president,  remarked,  the  new  president  "did  set 

a  terrific  pace. "    During  the  second  week  in  December  May 

journeyed  by  train  to  Tallahassee  v/here  she  apparently 

stayed  with  the  Trammells  in  the  governor's  residence.   A 

Tallahassee  paper  reported:  "Mrs.  William  S.  Jennings,  the 

brilliant  wife  of  former  Governor  Jennings  ...  is  making 

a  brief  visit  to  the  Capitol  city,  and  is  being  charmingly 

entertained  at  the  Governor's  Mansion  by  Mrs.  Park  Tram- 

mell."    While  in  the  city  May  also  met  with  Agnes  Harris 

at  the  Women's  College  to  discuss  home  economics  and  the 
extension  work  the  Federation  was  sponsoring.   Few,  however, 
knew  of  the  real  purpose  for  the  visit.   Florence  Cay  accom- 
panied May  when  she  met  with  the  various  cabinet  members 
who  were  all   trustees  of  the  Internal  Improvement  Fund. 
Trammell  must  have  been  won  over,  for  he  promised  to  present 
the  Federation's  request  at  the  next  meeting  of  the  trustees. 
On  December  23,  the  trustees  approved  a  letter  addressed  to 
the  Dade  County  commission,  authorizing  it  to  take  action 
to  prevent  trespassing  on  the  hammock  land  owned  by  the  state. 


Mr.  W.J.  Tweedell,  one  of  the  Commissioners,  had  a  wife 
who  was  a  prominent  clubwoman  in  Homestead  and  a  friend  of 
May ' s - 

The  following  day,  the  trustees  voted  to  grant  tenta- 
tively the  Federation  park  request,  subject  to  legislative 
approval.   The  trustees  planned  to  visit  South  Florida  in 
January,  and  May,  who  was  apprised  of  their  action,  was 
asked  not  to  reveal  the  news  to  the  public  until  after  that 
time.   Elated  over  the  officials'  action,  she  celebrated  a 
joyous  Christmas.   In  fact,  the  trustees  did  not  need 
legislative  approval  to  grant  and  convey  the  land,  but  per- 
haps the  unusual  nature  of  the  Federation's  request  made 
them  more  cautious  than  usual.   Endorsement  by  the  governor 
or  the  trustees  was  no  guarantee  that  the  lawmakers  would 
give  their  approval.   Only  intense  lobbying  efforts  would 
ensure  success. 

The  day  after  Christmas  the  Jennings  family  traveled 
to  Miami  for  a  round  of  official  Federation  visits.   Much 
time  was  taken  up  with  routine  club  business,  but  on  Monday, 
December  28,  accompanied  by  her  husband  and  son  and  Mrs. 
T.V.  Moore,  Mrs.  A.  Leight  Monroe,  and  Mary  Barr  Munroe, 
May  journeyed  to  Paradise  Key  to  see  for  herself  the  much 
talked-about  Royal  Palm  hammock.   The  trip  must  have  been 
a  "bone- jarring"  one,  since  the  road  out  to  the  key  was  un- 
paved  and  little  more  than  a  boggy  cow  path,  barely  passa- 
ble by  auto  during  the  wet  season.   Pictures  of  the  region 


during  that  period  often  show  a  stranded  Model-T  hub-high 
in  mud  with  the  occupants  digging  and  pushing  to  get  it 
unstuck.   In  a  letter  to  Elizabeth  Hocker ,  May  referred  to 
the  trip:  "The  Hammock  is  entirely  surrounded  by  water,  the 
palms  tower  much  above  the  other  growth.  .  .  .   The  women 

down  in  that  part  of  the  country  are  very  enthusiastic 

over  the  Park  subject." 

After  the  trustees  visited  the  key  they  notified  May 
that  they  approved  of  the  resolution  granting  the  property 
to  the  Federation,  and  then  the  news  was  released  to  the 
public.   It  was  an  important  event  in  the  history  of 
Florida  conservation  because  with  this  action  state  govern- 
ment was  changing,  quietly  but  dramatically,  its  policy. 
No  matter  that  the  trustees  grudgingly  approved,  or  that 
they  were  reluctant  to  assume  any  of  the  care  of  the  pro- 
posed park,  or  that,  as  some  said,  the  only  reason  they 
concurred  was  because  the  land  was  unfit  for  anything  else. 
The  decision  was  ultimately  to  benefit  all  of  the  people, 
and  the  hammock  would  become  Florida's  first  state  park, 
albeit  privately  owned.   The  park  would  be  an  important 
step  in  the  establishment  of  the  Everglades  National  Park 
many  years  hence. 

After  May  received  notification  of  the  approval  of 
the  trustees  she  began  mobilizing  the  Federation.   Her 
husband  drafted  a  bill  to  be  presented  to  the  legislature, 
calling  for  the  state  to  deed  to  the  Federation  960  acres 


to  match  the  960-acre  Flagler  grant.   It  would  also  provide 
$1,000  for  maintenance  of  the  park.   May  and  her  cohorts 
knew  that  there  was  much  to  be  done.   The  public  had  to  be 
rallied  in  support  of  the  project;  legislators  needed  to  be 
contacted;  pamphlets  and  other  material  about  the  proposed 
park  would  have  to  be  printed;  speeches  had  to  be  given,  and 
press  releases  written.   There  was  little  available  time 
as  the  legislature  convened  in  only  two  months. 

In  addition  to  the  park  projects  May  had  many  other 
Federation  business  matters  to  attend  to.   The  volume  of 
her  correspondence  continued  to  grow;  she  was  the  leader 
of  an  organization  with  twenty  departments,  ninety-one  clubs, 
and  6,000  members.   She  employed  a  second  parttime  steno- 
grapher to  help  not  only  with  her  Federation  correspondence 
but  also  that  relating  to  her  duties  as  president  of  the 
Springfield  Improvement  Association,  and  of  the  DAR  and  the 
YWCA.   She  had  also  been  appointed  state  chairman  of  the 
Belgium  Relief  Commission  with  the  responsibility  of  raising 
money  and  goods  for  war-stricken  European  refugees.   May 
labored  tirelessly  to  promote  the  club  movement  and  to  bring 
even  more  women  into  civic  work.   She  wanted  the  women  of 
Florida  to  become  better  educated  in  practical  politics  and 
civic  service.   She  wrote  a  paper  about  the  Federation  and 
its  work  and  her  views  and  feelings  about  women's  clubs  and 
mailed  a  copy  to  each  unaffiliated  club  in  the  state. 


During  this  period  she  also  supervised  a  statewide 
campaign  to  register  births  which  the  Federation  had 
instituted  to  alert  the  public  to  the  need  for  a  bureau  of 
vital  statistics.   The  actual  work  was  done  under  the  auspice: 
of  Julia  Lathrop,  director  of  the  Children's  Bureau  of  the 
United  States  Department  of  Labor.   May  also  corresponded 
with  V7illiam  Sheats,  state  superintendent  of  public  instruc- 
tion, about  education  bills  to  be  submitted  to  the  upcoming 
legislature.   Sheats  favored  a  county-option  compulsory 
education  bill,  while  May  wanted  a  stronger  law  that  would 
compel  attendance.   She  was  also  working  with  a  Federation 
committee  on  plans  to  present  to  state  officials  on  the 
rebuilding  of  the  Industrial  School  for  Boys  at  Marianna, 
which  had  just  suffered  a  major  fire.   The  women  favored 
construction  of  a  new  facility  based  on  the  family-style 
cottage  plan.   In  addition  to  all  of  these  matters,  May 
was  working  with  Agnes  Harris,  home  economist,  to  prevent 
state  officials  from  usurping  all  the  funds  that  the  state 
was  receiving  from  the  federal  Smith-Lever  Act.   In  one 
nearby  state  the  local  land-grant  college  had  already 
announced  that  only  twenty-four  per  cent  of  the  money  would 
be  allotted  to  female  educational  needs,  despite  the  fact 
that  fifty  per  cent  was  designated  by  lav;  for  extension 
work  among  rural  farm  women.   Florida  women  had  received 
only  $2,000  of  a  $10,000  federal  grant.   As  a  prominent  and 
able  speaker  May  received  many  requests  to  lecture  before 


clubs  and  organization.   She  did  not  have  time  to  accept 
all  these  invitations,  but  she  planned  several  tours  through- 
out the  state  which  would  enable  her  to  visit  many  clubs. 

May  Jennings  thrived  on  work  and  activity.   She 
enjoyed  what  she  was  doing,  and  took  pride  in  knowing  that 
her  work  was  vital  to  the  welfare  of  her  state.   She  received 
encouraging  support  from  hundreds  of  her  sister  clubwomen 
and  this  strengthened  her  determination  to  achieve  her  goals. 
Humor  also  helped  to  alleviate  her  burdens;  she  never  lost 
the  ability  to  laugh  at  herself  or  with  her  club  friends. 
One  lady,  upon  being  appointed  to  the  newly-established 
Federation  good  roads  committee,  wrote  May,  "I  want  to  con- 
gratulate you  on  your  brilliant  choice.   As  a  Good  Roads 
builder  I  feel  that  I  shall  be  an  unqualified  success.   If 
I  am  not  it  won't  be  for  lack  of  practice  for  I  am  just  now 
engaged  in  corduroying  the  road  in  front  of  my  place  as  my 
sleeping  and  waking  dreams  are  disturbed  by  the  racing  of 
motors  trying  to  pull  out  of  the  deep  mud  holes.   I  can  see 

where  the  County  commissioners  of  my  area  will  have  a  bad 

fifteen  minutes  if  they  meet  up  with  me."    That  was  the 

kind  of  dedication  and  determination  May  liked  to  hear. 

May  was  called  upon  often  to  solve  domestic  problems 

since  many  of  her  colleagues  were  still  not  able  to  pursue 

club  work  without  opposition  from  their  families.   When  one 

woman  wrote  May  that  her  husband  was  demanding  that  she 

stop  her  club  work,  she  was  told,  "I  do  not  think  a  man  has 


any  right  to  ask  a  woman  to  stay  home  and  do  everything  for 
him.   It  takes  a  great  deal  of  conceit  to  imagine  he  is  so 
complete  that  he  can  satisfy  anybody  all  in  himself.  .  .  . 
I  am  not  going  to  give  you  up  without  a  struggle,  husband 


or  no.  ...   I  am  very  belligerent  just  now. " 

As  soon  as  news  of  the  proposed  Royal  Palm  Park  was 
released  to  the  public  May  began  to  enlist  support  for  the 
project.   She  tried  to  get  Washington  to  declare  the  hammock 
a  national  bird  and  wildlife  sanctuary,  but  was  unsuccess- 
ful in  her  effort.   As  the  time  for  the  legislative  session 
approached,  she  and  her  officers  worked  diligently  to 
finalize  the  Federation's  1915  legislative  program.   She 
was  confident  and  optimistic  about  successfully  getting  the 
entire  program  enacted.   She  wrote  a  friend,  "I  am  very 
hopeful  that  we  shall  succeed  in  getting  many  things  through 
the  Legislature  for  there  are  a  great  many  clubwomen  who 

are  wives  of  legislators,  who  will  be  on  the  ground  in 

Tallahassee  to  keep  in  close  touch  with  our  bills."    The 

new  chairman  of  the  legislation  committee,  Jessie  McGriff 

(Mrs.  John  McGriff  of  Jacksonville) ,  planned  to  spend  the 

first  weeks  of  the  session  in  Tallahassee  directing  the 

Federation's  lobbying  efforts.   May,  who  had  a  Federation 

speking  tour  planned  was  to  go  to  the  Capitol  only  after 

Mrs.  McGriff  returned  home.   Hindsight  would  show  that  her 

time  would  have  been  better  spent  if  she  had  cancelled  the 

tour  and  gone  directly  to  Tallahassee. 


When  the  Federation  legislative  resolution  was  ap- 
proved copies  were  sent  to  the  governor,  the  cabinet,  and 
all  members  of  the  legislature,  including  Cary  Hardee, 
speaker  of  the  House  (whose  wife  was  a  clubwoman),  and  A.E. 
Davis,  president  of  the  Senate.   The  Federation  resolution 
called  for  the  land  grant  to  establish  the  park,  enactment 
of  a  compulsory  education  bill,  creation  of  a  girls'  indus- 
trial school,  rebuilding  of  the  boys'  school  at  Marianna, 
erection  of  a  state  tuberculosis  hospital,  establishment  of 
a  forestry  board,  a  bureau  of  vital  statistics,  and  a  board 
of  charities,  land  for  the  Seminoles,  development  of  roads, 
and  a  law  allowing  women  to  serve  on  school  boards.   It 
was  a  formidable  shopping  list. 

Assured  that  all  was  proceeding  without  problems,  May 
departed  on  her  speaking  tour.   The  Federation  board  of 
directors  held  a  meeting  at  Dade  City  during  that  time.   At 
the  meeting  the  women  were  invited  to  St.  Leo  Abbey  and 
College  where  they  were  entertained  by  Abbot  Charles  Mohr . 
One  amusing  bit  of  correspondence  preceded  this  meeting. 
May  was  informed  that  only  the  Abbot  could  get  the  women 
into  the  college's  buildings.   "Who,"  May  asked  in  jest, 
"could  get  them  out?"   The  reply  came,  "that  after  the 
women  saw  the  Abbot  none  would  want  out."     The  handsome 
Abbot  proved  to  be  a  charming  host  and  served  luncheon  to 
the  clubwomen,  then  he  personally  conducted  the  ladies 
"through  the  buildings  where  they  had  the  privilege  of 


viewing  the  beautiful  vestments  and  symbols  and  received 
special  prayers  in  the  chapel."     May,  who  shared  her  St. 
Joseph  school  days  adventures  with  Abbot  Mohr,  corresponded 
with  him  for  many  years. 

Unfortunately,  all  was  not  going  well  at  Tallahassee. 
Jessie  McGriff,  who  was  inexperienced  at  legislative  work, 
edited  the  Federation's  resolution,  and  deleted  the  request 
for  a  $1,000  annual  park  appropriation.   The  sum  for  the 
girls'  industrial  school  was  also  reduced,  and  a  new  demand 
for  free  textbooks  was  inserted.   In  addition,  Minnie  Moore 
Willson,  a  long-time  champion  of  the  Seminoles,  arrived  at 
the  Capitol  to  lobby  for  the  Indian  land  grant.   Outspoken 
and  abrasive,  she  generated  resentment  among  the  legisla- 
tors by  threatening  reprisals  if  the  bill  was  not  enacted 
and  thereby  did  much  damage  to  the  Federation's  cause. 
May  was  furious  when  she  was  apprised  of  these  actions.   Mrs. 
McGriff,  who  was  lukewarm  to  the  park  project,  seemed  unaware 
of  the  trouble  that  had  been  created,  but  the  lawmakers 
were  already  balking  at  granting  the  park  land,  or  the 
Seminole  grant.   Many  felt  that  the  Paradise  Key  acreage 
was  not  good  for  anything,  especially  a  park. 

May  wrote  chairman  McGriff,  "If  the  park  tract  is  so 

dense  and  useless,  I  do  not  see  why  the  men  are  so  anxious 


to  keep  it  if  we  are  anxious  to  have  it."     A  letter  from 

Lena  Shackleford  written  about  the  woes  of  lobbying   reached 
May  at  Dade  City  and  added  to  her  alarm.   Mrs.  Shackleford 


wrote,  "I  will  be  glad  to  see  you  back  over  here,  perhaps 
you  can  do  something  .  .  .  they  [the  legislators]  all  look 

so  kind  and  promising  when  we  talk  to  them  and  then  turn 

away  and  forget  that  we  were  ever  there."     With  no  alter- 
native May  had  to  go  to  Tallahassee.   Fences  had  to  be 
mended  and  the  credibility  of  the  Federation  reestablished. 

May's  trip  to  the  Capitol  appeared  successful  for 
the  $1,000  for  the  park  was  put  back  into  the  bill.   She 
lobbied  Senator  Glen  Terrell  and  others  on  behalf  of  the 
boys' and  girls'  schools ,  and  she  pushed  the  education,  Indian, 
and  vital  statistics  bills  before  the  appropriate  legislative 
committees.   She  was  assured  that  the  measures  would  pass 
without  further  trouble,  but,  unfortunately,  this  was  not 
so.   As  soon  as  she  departed  Tallahassee  the  park  bill 
again  ran  into  trouble.   Several  of  the  other  bills  were 
killed  outright  in  committee.   May  would  not  give  up, 
however.   She  felt  personally  responsible  for  the  park 
proposal.   During  the  last  days  of  the  session,  when  the 
outcome  seemed  dismal,  Governor  Jennings  and  son  Bryan,  who 
had  just  graduated  from  Stetson  University,  traveled  to 
Tallahassee  to  lobby  for  the  bill.   Not  only  was  it  a  race 
against  the  close  of  the  session,  but  because  of  the  publicity, 
vandals  and  road  crews  were  digging  up  many  of  the  palms 
and  other  exotic  plants. 

The  legislature  was  scheduled  to  recess  June  4,  1915; 
it  would  not  meet  again  for  two  years.   Time  was  crucial. 


May  had  planned  to  be  in  the  Capitol  up  to  the  last  moment 
working  for  the  bill,  but  illness,  brought  on  by  severe 
exhaustion,  kept  her  at  home  in  Jacksonville.   As  she 
anxiously  awaited  the  outcome,  her  husband  and  son  remained 
at  the  Capitol  to  push  the  measure.   Finally  on  June  2nd 
she  received  a  telegram  from  Bryan:  "House  passed  Park  Bill." 

The  next  day  her  husband  wired:  "Park  Bill  passed  Senate 

midnight."     The  bill  had  literally  been  enacted  at  the 

very  last  minute,  but  no  matter,  for  Royal  Palm  Park  was 
now  more  than  just  a  vision. 

May  was  overjoyed;  the  Federation  owned  the  hammock. 
Unfortunately,  she  soon  learned  that  the  appropriation  had 
been  cut  out  of  the  bill  by  its  opponents.   Without  main- 
tenance, for  all  practical  purposes,  the  park  was  doomed. 
How  was  the  Federation  to  develop  a  state  park  for  public 
purposes  with  no  funding?   May,  both  grateful  yet  frustrated, 
sent  letters  of  appreciation  to  Herbert  Drane  and  Harry 
Goldstein,  sponsors  of  the  bill,  and  to  all  the  others  who 
had  voted  for  the  park  as  well  as  other  Federation  legisla- 
tion.  Trying  to  boost  everyone's  morale,  May  notified 
Federation  officers  that  the  paths,  lodge,  and  pavilions 
envisioned  for  the  park  could  still  be  built.   The  Federa- 
tion would  just  have  to  secure  the  funds  somewhere  else. 
In  truth,  May  had  no  idea  where  the  money  would  come  from, 
but  the  importance  of  the  project  and  her  inherent  optimism 
sustained  her. 


Despite  the  disappointments,  it  had  been  a  success- 
ful legislative  session  for  the  Federation.   The  boys'  indus- 
trial school  had  received  adequate  funding  and  a  new 
cottage  plan  was  adopted  for  its  campus.   A  girls'  indus- 
trial school  had  been  created,  though  it  was  not  well  funded 
and  there  was  talk  of  locating  it  at  an  old  Marion  County 
prison  farm.   A  county  option  compulsory  education  bill  was 
passed.   Several  laws  promoting  good  roads  were  enacted 
including  one  which  created  the  state's  first  road  depart- 
ment.  A  state  bureau  of  vital  statistics  was  established, 
and  detention  homes  for  delinquent  children  were  mandated 
for  each  county.   However,  there  were  failures  also.   There 
was  still  no  forestry  board,  state  tuberculosis  hospital, 
lands  for  Seminoles,  or  a  law  allowing  females  to  serve  on 
school  boards.   But,  in  general, May  was  satisfied  with  the 
outcome  of  the  session. 

By  1915  the  drive  for  equal  suffrage  for  women  was 
beginning  to  develop  in  Florida,  although  the  state  was 
never  to  play  a  major  role  in  the  national  suffragette 
movement.   In  1915  there  were  several  women's  rights  organi- 
zations operating  in  the  state.   The  first  had  been  organized 
in  Jacksonville  in  1912   by  friends  of  May's,  many  of  whom 
were  Federation  members.   This  organization,  known  as  the 
Florida  Equal  Franchise  League,  affiliated  itself  with  the 
National  American  V7oman '  s  Suffrage  Association.   Other 


groups  soon  organized  and  eventually  most  of  the  Florida 


leagues  united  into  the  Florida  Equal  Suffrage  Association. 

Prior  to  1918  membership  in  the  various  suffrage 
leagues  in  Florida  read  like  a  who's  who  of  the  Federation 
rolls.   Dr.  Mary  Jewett,  Mary  Bryan  (Mrs.  William  Jennings 
Bryan),  Annie  Broward,  and  Ivy  Stranahan,  all  took  turns 
guiding  the  Florida  Equal  Suffrage  Association.   Membership 
between  the  various  town  and  city  suffrage  leagues  and  the 
Federation  became  so  entwined  that  in  most  cases  they  were 
one  and  the  same.   On  more  than  one  occasion  the  Federation 
and  the  Florida  Equal  Suffrage  Association  shared  the  place 
and  date  of  their  yearly  conventions,  so  that  the  state's 
clubwomen  could  conveniently  attend  both  meetings  without 
economic  hardship. 

May  was  especially  sympathetic  to  the  goals  of  the 
suffragists,  although  as  president  of  the  Federation  she 
felt  she  could  make  no  public  endorsement  of  something  which 
had  not  been  officially  approved  by  the  membership.   On 
several  occasions  she  was  urged  to  "go  public"  and  support 
the  movement.   Edith  Stoner,  officer  of  the  Southern  States' 
Woman's  Suffrage  Conference,  wrote,  "You  are  the  one  woman 
in  Florida  who  can  carry  your  state  for  suffrage."     Mary 
Jewett,  Federation  member  from  Orlando  and  friend  of  Dr. 
Anna  Shaw,  national  leader  of  the  National  American  Woman's 
Suffrage  Association,  also  urged  May  to  take  a  stand.   May 
did  escort  Dr.  Shaw  around  Jacksonville  when  the  leader 


arrived  in  the  city  for  a  public  lecture,  but  she  felt  tied 
by  the  views  of  the  rank  and  file  of  the  Federation  who  were 
opposed   to  becoming  involved  in  such  a  controversial  sub- 
ject as  equal  suffrage.   However,  she  determined  that  it 
was  time  to  change  those  views  and  she  believed  the  Federa- 
tion should  endorse  suffrage.   She  began  to  work  to  those 
ends.   After  the  1915  legislative  session  adjourned  work 
on  the  Federation's  other  objectives  continued.   South  Flori- 
da women  managed  to  get  the  Dade  County  Commissioners  to 
name  the  new  highway  to  Flamingo  in  honor  of  J.E.  Ingraham, 
who  had  helped  to  secure  the  park  land  from  the  legislature 
and  the  Flagler  estate.   The  Federation's  civics  department 
sponsored  a  statewide  cleanup  campaign  to  urge  cities  to 
beautify  their  parks,  public  facilities,  and  roadways. 
Beautif ication  programs  had  a  long  and  popular  history  with- 
in the  Federation,  and  it  was  a  logical  step  for  the  women 
to  take  an  interest  in  highway  beautif ication,  especially 
since  the  state  was  in  the  beginnings  of  a  "good  roads" 
boom.   A  special  Federation  committee  began  making  plans 
to  beaufity  the  Dixie  Highway  which  was  being  built  from 
Chicago  to  Miami.   Its  route  in  Florida  went  from  Thomas- 
ville,  Georgia,  to  Tallahassee,  then  to  Jacksonville,  and 
from  there  down  the  east  coast  to  Maimi.   The  Federation 
took  on  the  responsibility  for  the  last  seventy-eight  miles 
of  the  road  that  ran  from  Miami,  through  the  park.   Gover- 
nor Jennings,  a  member  of  the  Dixie  Highway  Commission, 


and  Carl  Fisher,  whose  wife,  Jane,  was  a  Federation  member, 
were  the  highway's  chief  promoters.   The  Federation  later 
sponsored  statewide  anti-litter  and  anti-billboard  campaigns. 
The  Federation  sponsored  other  projects  during  1915,  includ- 
ing the  funding  of  a  bed  for  an  indigent  patient  at  Dr. 
Hiram  Byrd ' s  private  tuberculosis  sanitorium  in  South 
Florida,  and  the  travels  and  lectures  of  a  home  economics 
demonstration  agent  from  Stetson  University. 

Most  of  May's  time  was  occupied  with  the  park  pro- 
ject.  Besides  money,  she  needed  public  support.   To  secure 
funds  she  wrote  every  newspaper,  organization,  and  indivi- 
dual that  might  be  interested  in  helping  the  Federation. 
Philanthropists  such  as  John  D.  Rockefeller,  Andrew  Carnegie, 
and  Charles  Deering  were  solicited.   Thomas  A.  Edison,  a 
winter  resident  of  Fort  Myers,  who  May  had  met,  sent  $50.00. 
Gradually,  small  amounts  of  money  began  to  trickle  into 
the  park  fund,  but  it  was  never  enough.   Mrs.  Flagler's 
96  0-acre  endowment  was  secured,  and  some  of  the  land  was 
rented  out  to  area  farmers.   This  earned  several  hundred 

During  1915  May  took  no  vacation.   In  July  she 
spoke  before  the  State  Board  of  Control  on  behalf  of  the 
Smith-Lever  funds  and  the  girls'  industrial  school.  In  August 
she  held  a  Federation  board  meeting  at  Fort  Lauderdale.   By 
September  she  was  back  on  the  club  circuit.  One  friend 
wrote  her,  "Your  energy  is  colossal,  surpassed  only  by  your 


ability. "     To  lighten  her  burdens  Governor  Jennings 
surprised  her  in  September  with  a  new  Welch  automobile  that 
he  purchased  while  on  a  business  trip  to  New  York  City. 
May  was  thrilled  and  wrote  to  a  friend,  "The  president  is 

going  to  ride  in  style  from  now  on,  if  she  has  sense  enough 


to  run  the  machine."     Alas,  there  was  never  time  to  learn 

to  drive  the  new  automobile  even  though  her  son  tried  to 
give  her  lessons  each  time  he  was  home  from  lav;  school.   It 
was  many  years  before  May  Jennings  learned  to  drive.   Her 
immediate  transportation  dilemma  was  solved  'when,  Benny, 
the  Jennings'  houseman  and  gardener,  learned  to  drive  and 
became  May's  chauffeur.   On  long  trips  she  continued  to 
travel  by  train. 

The  twenty-first  annual  Federation  convention  was 
held  at  Deland  in  November  1915.   It  marked  May's  first 
year  as  president  of  the  organization.   Over  100  clubwomen 
attended.   Among  those  on  the  program  were  J.L.  Boone, 
superintendent  of  the  Boys'  Industrial  School,  Dr.  II. W.  Cox, 
professor  of  psychology  at  the  University  of  Florida  who 
spoke  about  industrial  education,  and  L.C.  Spencer,  United 
States  Indian  Agent  to  the  Seminole  Indians.   May's  address 
to  the  convention  traced  the  history  of  womens '  struggles. 

It  was  filled  with  platitudes  like  "Divine  Plan,"  "great 

scheme  of  life,"  and  "Eternal  Ideal."     It  was  not  one 

of  her  better  speeches,  but  she  received  a  standing  ovation 

from  an  appreciative  audience.   Her  official  report  noted 


that  during  the  year   she  had  visited  each  of  the  state's 
five  club  sections,  held  five  board  of  directors  meetings, 
talked  before  101  clubs,  had  written  1,869  letters,  and  had 
traveled  5,164  miles  on  club  business. 

During  the  meeting  a  motion  supporting  equal  suffrage 
for  women  and  making  it  an  official  subject  for  Federation 
study  was  brought  before  the  convention.   After  a  brief 
discussion,  at  which  only  token  opposition  emerged,  the 
motion  was  passed.   The  Federation  also  voted  into  member- 
ship the  Orlando  Suffrage  League,  the  state's  most  active 
suffrage  organization.   Other  leagues  soon  joined  making  the 
Federation  Florida's  largest  organization  supporting 
suffrage.   Now  May  could  speak  upon  the  subject,  and  she 
began  to  urge  all  clubs  within  the  Federation  to  study  the 
subject  of  equal  suffrage.   She  knew  that  it  was  imperative 
that  the  women  be  educated  to  their  responsibilities  once 
they  achieved  the  vote.   She  also  believed  that  education 
would  tend  to  weaken  the  arguments  of  those  women  who  opposed 
equal  suffrage. 

During  1916  May  continued  to  promote  suffrage,  the 
park,  lands  for  the  Seminoles,  and  public  health.   The 
financial  plight  of  the  park  remained  desperate.   She  tried 
to  get  a  United  States  weather  station  assigned  to  the  key, 
but,  there  was  one  nearby  in  Dade  County.   A  statewide  "mile- 
of -dimes"  campaign  was  launched,  in  which  cardboard  folders, 
one  foot  in  length  and  having  slots  for  twelve  dimes,  were 


distributed.   The  hope  was  that  the  folders  laid  end-to-end 
for  one  mile  would  bring  in  over  $6,000.   The  campaign  was 
not  successful;  less  than  $1,000  was  collected.   The 
Federation  secured  the  services  of  Charles  Mosier  as  park 
caretaker  and  he  began  making  improvements.   He  had  worked 
at  "Vizcaya,"  James  Deerings '  Miami  estate,  and  was  knowl- 
edgeable about  the  hammock  region,  having  explored  it  with 
Dr.  Small  and  Dr.  Fairchild.   In  March  the  Mosier  family 
moved  to  the  park  and  set  up  housekeeping  in  a  tent.   His 
letters  to  May  were  filled  with  accounts  of  bouts  with 
mosquitoes,  poisonous  snakes,  torrential  rains,  scorching 
heat,  and  grassfires.   Only  a  hearty  soul  who  liked  what 
he  was  doing  could  have  endured  such  trials. 

Despite  the  lack  of  money,  work  on  a  lodge  at  the 
park  was  begun.   Mosier  also  cut  paths,  constructed  picnic 
tables,  and  guided  sightseers  who  drove  out  to  the  park  to 

see  what  all  the  fuss  was  about.   May,  who  referred  to  the 

2  D 

park  as  her  "great  hobby,"  continued  her  search  for  money. 

She  wrote  to  E.A.  Mcllhenny,  tabasco   sauce  tycoon  from 
Avery,  Louisiana,  about  raising  and  selling  tropical  birds. 
She  even  explored  the  possibility  of  President  Woodrow  Wilson 
making  the  park  a  national  monument,  but  to  no  avail.   Work 
at  the  park  was  delayed  by  slowness  in  the  paving  of  the 
Flamingo  highway.   Some  women  thought  that  amusement  rides 
at  the  park  would  bring  in  visitors  and  money,  but  May 
quickly  vetoed  this  idea.   She  wrote,  "If  they  want  a 


merry-go-round  and  shoot-the- shoot  let  them  go  to  the 

beach."     When  funds  were  critically  low,  the  old-girl 

network  was  pressed  into  service.   Local  clubwomen  succeeded 

in  securing  from  the  Dade  County  Commissioners  a  one-year 

$1,200  appropriation.   Several  of  the  women  were  married  to 

commissioners.   With  this  $1,200  and  money  borrowed  from 

Federation  funds  designated  for  other  purposes  the  lodge 

and  other  improvements  were  eventually  completed. 

May  spent  much  time  also  supervising  the  Federation's 
public  health  committee,  headed  by  Dr.  Grace  Whitford  of 
Ozona.   During  the  year  the  committee  sponsored  the  sale 
of  Red  Cross  seals,  a  statewide  "Baby  Week,"  medical  inspec- 
tion of  schools,  the  dissemination  of  information  on 
communicable  diseases,  and  health  exhibits  which  toured 
on  a  state  "health  train."   It  also  aided  in  the  hiring 
of  nurses  in  fifteen  of  the  State's  health  districts.   Two 
members  of  the  committee  served  on  a  state  commission  which 
investigated  the  need  for  a  state  institution  for  the 
feeble-minded  and  the  retarded. 

Another  matter  that  consumed  much  of  May's  time  in 
1916  was  the  development  of  plans  to  help  the  Seminole 
Indians.   Ivy  Stranahan,  of  Fort  Lauderdale,  was  chairman 
of  the  Federation's  Indian  committee.   She  and  May  kept  in 
close  touch  and  worked  to  further  the  passage  of  the  Sears 
bill  in  Congress  which  Senator  Fletcher  and  Congressman 
Sears  were  backing.   It  provided  for  a  government  grant  of 


nearly  100,000  acres  to  the  Indians.   Factions  developed 
over  what  lands  to  award  and  how  they  should  be  used. 
Minnie  Moore  Willson  and  others  felt  that  only  unspoiled 
Everglades  acreage,  good  for  hunting,  should  be  granted  to 
the  Seminoles.   May  and  Mrs.  Stranahan,  as  well  as  the 
Bureau  of  Indian  Affairs,  argued  that  the  Indians  should 
receive  drained  lands  that  could  be  used  for  farming  and 
grazing  cattle.   They  also  favored  erection  of  an  industrial 
training  school  for  the  Indians  on  the  land.   Mrs.  Willson 's 
contentiousness  and  threats  finally  alienated  many  people, 
and  May  broke  off  Federation  cooperation  with  her. 

During  1916  May  continued  her  tours  of  Florida. 
While  speaking  before  clubs  and  other  groups  she  always 
talked  about  the  park,  her  favorite  project.   As  she  once 
told  Mosier,  the  park  was  special,  for  she  "was  more  fond 
of  plants  and  plant  growth  than  anything  in  the  world."22 
She  began  to  make  plans  for  a  grand  celebration  at  the  park 
to  take  place  during  the  convention  the  following  year, 
which  was  scheduled  to  be  held  at  Miami.   Would  there  be 
anything  to  celebrate?   The  park  was  still  woefully  short 
of  funds. 

May's  hectic  pace  continued  unabated  for  the  rest 
of  1916.   She  urged  the  presidents  of  Stetson  University 
and  the  two  state  universities  to  make  Spanish  a  requirement 
for  graduation.   She  sponsored  Charlotte  Dye  of  Birmingham, 
Alabama,  as  matron  of  the  new  girls'  industrial  school, 


before  the  governor  and  cabinet.   She  authored  a  paper  en- 
titled "Beautif ication  of  Florida  Highways"  which  was  read 
at  the  annual  Florida  Good  Roads  Association  convention 
held  in  St.  Augustine.   She  secured  the  Federation's 
endorsement  of  the  Keating-Owens  child  labor  bill  which  was 
pending  in  Congress.   And,  she  attended  the  General  Federa- 
tion's biennial  convention  in  New  York  City  in  June,  1916, 
and  saw  her  resolution  calling  for  beautif ication  of  the 
Dixie  Highway  passed  by  the  group.   Always  an  ardent  gardener 
she  was  pleased  when  Dr.  Henry  Nehrling,  a  South  Florida 
horticulturist  honored  her  by  naming  a  beautiful  new  hybrid 
amaryllis  the  "May  M.  Jennings." 

The  major  event  of  the  Federation's  twenty-second 
annual  convention  in  Miami  in  1916  was  the  formal  dedication 
of  Royal  Palm  Park.   On  November  23  a  motorcade  of  168  cars, 

"Fords,  Cadillacs,  Maxwells,  Overlands,  and  ever  other 

kind,"  left  Miami's  Halcyon  Hotel  for  the  park.     Over 

1,000  persons  attended.   May  presided.   After  introductions 

and  a  dedication  prayer,  the  Federation's  park  committee's 

official  report  was  read.   Then  James  Ingraham,  guest  of 

honor,  spoke.   As  reported  by  the  Miami  Herald  he  "made  a 

most  delightful  speech,  telling  in  intimate  conversational 

terms  first  of  his  early  discovery  of  Paradise  Key,  of  his 

talk  with  both  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Flagler  on  the  subject,  of  the 

title  claim  made  by  the  railroad  and  then  most  whimsically 

of  Mrs.  Jennings'  attempts  to  have  a  bill  put  through  the 


legislature.  .  .  .   The  difficulties  in  this  line  were 
depicted,  the  promises  of  legislators,  the  consultation 
with  the  wise  old  lawyer  [Governor  Jennings]  and  the  last 

indefatigable  efforts  which  resulted  in  the  land  being 


given,  but  not  the  money." 

The  keynote  address  was  given  by  Mrs.  John  D.  Sher- 
man of  Chicago,  General  Federation  Conservation  chairman. 
She  was  followed  by  Dr.  Charles  T.  Simpson  who  had  identi- 
fied and  tagged  the  trees.   He  described  the  botanical 
nature  of  the  park.   Then  May  rose  and  dedicated  the  park 
with  the  simple  words,  "With  the  power  in  me  vested  as 
president  of  the  Florida  Federation  of  Women's  Clubs  I 

hereby  dedicate  this  Royal  Palm  Park  to  the  people  of 


Florida  and  their  children  forever. " 

Even  though  the  lodge  was  not  yet  completed  a  picnic 
luncheon  with  turkey,  ham,  salad,  and  a  cola  called  "Pina- 
pola,"  was  served  on  the  grounds.   It  was  a  happy  crowd  that 
walked  the  newly-cut  paths  that  day.   Every  prominent  state 
official  including  the  governor  had  been  invited,  but  none 
attended.   Present,  however,  were  loyalists  who  had  supported 
the  park  from  the  beginning.   They  included  Mary  and  Kirk 
Munroe,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  W.J.  Tweedell,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Bion  H. 
Barnett,  Ivy  Stranahan,  Lucy  Blackman,  Annie  Broward,  Dr. 
P.H.  Rolfs,  Florence  Cay,  Sudie  B.  Wright,  Dollie  Hendley, 
Iva  Sproule-Baker ,  Mary  B.  Jewett,  Grace  Whitford,  Mrs. 
Harry  Minium,  Minerva  Jennings,  Mrs.  E.C.  Loveland,  and 
Governor  Jennings   and  Bryan. 


After  the  dedication  the  women  returned  to  their 
Miami  convention  and  took  up  the  matter  of  suffrage.   After 
Mary  Bryan  addressed  the  women  on  the  subject,  an  equal 
suffrage  plank  was  endorsed  and  added  to  the  legislation 
program.   Other  speakers  at  the  meeting  were  Dr.  E.  M. 
Nighbert,  who  gave  a  talk  on  eradication  of  the  cattle 
fever  tick,  and  Bradford  Knapp,  state  agriculture  agent  who 
talked  about  rural  extension  work.   An  endowment  fund  was 
established  for  the  Federation  and  Stephen  Foster's  "Suwan- 
nee River"  was  recommended  as  the  state  song.   In  the 
president's  report,  May  noted  that  since  the  last  conven- 
tion she  had  delivered  forty-eight  speeches,  handled  5,364 
pieces  of  mail,  and  traveled  over  10,000  miles  on  club 
business . 

The  proposed  1917  legislation  resolution  which  the 
women  adopted  contained  some  twenty-five  items.   It  called 
for  an  annual  state  appropriation  of  $5,000  for  the  park, 
lands  for  the  Seminole  Indians,  creation  of  the  position 
of  state  forester  and  formation  of  special  forest  fire  tax 
districts,  legislative  endorsement  of  state  amendments  on 
prohibition  and  equal  suffrage,  an  act  allowing  women  to 
serve  on  school  boards,  a  special  appropriation  to  the  home 
economics  department  at  the  Florida  State  College  for  Women 
in  Tallahassee,  equal  division  of  the  state's  Smith-Lever 
Funds,  health  examination  for  teachers,  free  textbooks  for 
all  school  children,  appropriations  for  the  boys'  and  girls' 


industrial  schools  and  women  members  on  their  boards  of 
managers,  strengthening  of  child  labor  laws,  a  minimum 
wage  and  hour  bill  for  female  employees, a  state  tubercu- 
losis sanatorium,  regulation  of  medical  advertisements,  a 
bill  outlawing  public  executions,  one  prohibiting  signs  and 
billboards  on  public  highways,  and  one  setting  aside  Alli- 
gator Bay  rookery  as  a  bird  reservation.   Many  of  these 
demands  supported  measures  already  advocated  by  the  General 
Federation  or  were  pending  before  Congress.   Florida  women 
and  the  Federation  had  come  a  long  way  from  that  first  year 
in  1895  when  one  modest  proposal  of  less  than  forty  words 
had  been  submitted  to  the  legislature.   Now,  even  though 
the  women  could  still  not  vote  or  hold  office,  they  were  a 
constituency  to  be  reckoned  with,  and  the  legislature  was 
aware  of  their  political  influence. 

The  Jennings  spent  Christmas,  1916,  at  their  new 
home  in  Miami.   Within  a  few  months  the  country  would  be 
drawn  into  the  great  European  war,  which  was  to  change 
life  for  everyone  and  add  greatly  to  May's  already  over- 
full schedule.   Characteristically,  she  would  take  on  war 
work  and  give  herself  even  more  responsibilities.   But  for 
now  she  enjoyed  her  family  and  friends  and  worked  on  plans 
for  the  legislature  in  March.   The  Jennings  would  spend 
more  and  more  time  in  Miami.   Their  cousins,  William  and 
Mary  Bryan  had  a  home,  "Villa  Serena,"  next  to  their  own 
Brickell  Avenue  house;  the  two  couples  often  entertained 


together.   Both  Bryans  were  outspoken  supporters  of  pro- 
hibition and  equal  suffrage  and  stumped  the  state  on 
behalf  of  these  issues.   Mrs.  Bryan  was  chairman  of  the 
Florida  Equal  Suffrage  Association's  legislation  committee 
and  a  member  of  the  Federation.   The  Bryan's  sometime  held 
open  houses  and  teas  at  their  villa  to  raise  money  for 
their  cause.   At  one  such  event  on  behalf  of  women's  suf- 
frage, "a  plate  was  discretely  left  by  the  door  into  which 
the  thoughtful  made  contributions  .  .  .  Sixty-six  dollars 

was  raised  and  when  the  amount  was  announced,  Governor 


Jennings  promptly  announced  he  would  double  the  amount. 

The  year  following,  1917,  began  with  the  inaugura- 
tion of  Sidney  J.  Catts  as  governor  and  this  signalled  a 
move  to  the  political  right  in  Florida.   While  progressives 
remained  active  and  did  not  completely  relinquish  their 
hold  on  state  government,  conservatives  were  gaining  the 
initiative.   Catts  played  both  to  the  progressives  and  con- 
servatives.  Progressive  reforms,  which  had  been  underway 
for  some  time,  retained  their  momentum,  but  many  were  in- 
stituted only  after  strong  resistance  from  conservative 
legislators.   Catts'  racial,  moral,  and  religious  views 
cast  a  pall  over  the  state  and  created  divisions  which  tended 
to  polarize  the  people.   Governor  Jennings  had  supported 
James  V.  Knott,  Catts'  opponent,  and  both  he  and  May  were 
alarmed  when  Catts  was  elected.   May  felt  uneasy  about  the 
outcome  of  the  1917  legislative  session  after  Catts  assumed 


office,  but  she  quickly  struck  up  a  friendship  with  the 
new  governor,  and  tried  to  maintain  an  open  mind  about  his 
administration.   In  turn,  Catts  was  impressed  with  her 
when  they  met  and  wrote,  "We  all  like  you  very  much  indeed 
and  I  am  also  charmed  with  your  son  whom  I  met."27 

Just  as  supporters  of  equal  suffrage  were  to  be 
found  in  large  numbers  in  the  Federation,  there  were  also 
prohibitionists.   Many  women  were  members  of  both  the  Fed- 
eration and  the  Women's  Christian  Temperance  Union.   Pro- 
hibition sentiment  mounted  in  Florida,  in  part  as  a  result 
of  Catts'  tirades  against  "blind  tigers"  and  sinners.   May 
favored  prohibition  but  she  never  belonged  to  the  W.C.T.U. 
At  the  1914  Federation  convention  clubwomen  went  on  record 
favoring  prohibition.   Two  years  later,  a  stronger  prohi- 
bition plank  was  endorsed  when  women  who  favored  the  subject 
sang  a  W.C.T.U.  rally  song;  those  who  did  not  favor  prohi- 
bition objected.   The  song,  however,  was  very  popular  at 
the  time: 

Florida,  Florida 
Dryi  Dry!  Dry.' 
Hear  us  tell  it. 
Everybody  yell  it. 

1917  is  the  day. 
You  help,  i  help. 
That's  the  way. 

We  will  do  it. 
See  us  try. 
Line  up,  Florida. 
Dry.'  Dry  J  Dry  .'2  8 


The  state  prohibitionists'  organization  was  the  only- 
organized  group  that  from  the  beginning  of  the  women's 
struggle  supported  them  in  their  call  for  equal  suffrage. 

Before  the  1917  legislative  session,  May  made 
several  trips.   She  organized  the  Duval  County  Federation 
of  Women's  Clubs  in  February  and  then  she  traveled  to 
Macon,  Georgia,  to  address  the  Conference  of  Industry  and 
Education  of  Southern  Women.   In  New  Orleans  she  attended 
a  General  Federation  council  meeting,  and  there  delivered 
an  address  on  the  subject  of  cooperation,  which  she  saw  as 
a  necessity  if  Americans  were  to  do  their  part  for  the  war 
effort,  which  began  against  Germany  in  April.   May  then 
went  to  Tallahassee  to  attend  to  the  Federation's  legis- 
lative program.   She  spent  four  weeks  in  the  Capital. 

She  worked  hard  for  the  Federation's  program,  but 
the  lawmakers  of  the  1917  session  seemed  more  intransigent 
and  opposed  to  the  women  than  ever.   The  issues  of  prohi- 
bition and  equal  suffrage  were  major  matters  for  debate. 
Despite  strong  pressure  from  the  old-girl  network  and 
telegrams  and  letters  from  the  Federation's  rank  and  file, 
the  legislators  refused  to  fund  the  park,  create  a  state 
forester  position,  or  enact  a  law  allowing  women  to  serve 
on  school  boards.   They  did,  however,  set  aside  nearly 
100,000  acres  of  Monroe  County  for  the  Seminoles,  only  five 
percent  of  which  was  arrable,  create  a  State  School  Book 
Commission,  permit  the  building  of  county-option  tuberculosis 


hospitals,  and  create  a  livestock  sanitary  board.   They 
also  passed  a  resolution  endorsing  national  prohibition. 

May,  who  stayed  at  the  Leon  Hotel,  spent  much  time 
talking  to  legislators  and  appearing  before  committees. 
On  weekends  she  traveled  to  Jacksonville  to  attend  to  her 
voluminous  correspondence.   She  wrote,  "You  cannot  realize 
what  an  exacting  task  master  legislative  work  is  ...  It 
is  genuine  hard  work  .  .  .  I  am  worn  completely  out,  have 

been  before  two  committees  on  appropriation  and  before  the 


Forestry  committee.   I  am  simply  snowed  under  with  work." 

The  fight  for  equal  suffrage  was  the  most  heated  and 
prolonged  battle  of  the  session.   May  worked  tirelessly 
along  with  Mary  Bryan,  Ivy  Stranahan,  and  Annie  Broward, 
all  of  whom  were  officers  of  the  Florida  Equal  Suffrage 
Association.   Mrs.  Bryan  addressed  a  joint  session  of  the 
legislature  on  behalf  of  suffrage.   May,  Ivy  Stranahan, 
Florence  Cay,  Mary  Jewett,  and  Lena  Shackleford,  along  with 
scores  more  of  enthusiastic  suffrage  supporters,  filled  the 
gallery  to  overflowing.   Mrs.  Bryan  was  introduced  by  Cary 
Hardee,  speaker  of  the  House  and  no  friend  of  suffrage. 
She  spoke  for  over  one  hour,  and  at  the  end  she  received  a 
standing  ovation.   It  is  doubtful,  however,  if  she  had  been 
able  to  change  the  minds  of  many  of  the  lawmakers,  despite 
the  fact  that  suffrage  had  won  the  support  of  several  of  the 
legislature's  most  respected  members,  including  Ion  Farris 
and  Doyle  Carlton,  other  prominent  Floridians,  and  many  of 
the  state's  largest  newspapers. 


"The  suffragists  brought  two  bills  to  Tallahassee 
with  them.   One  was  an  equal  suffrage  primary  bill  which  if 
adopted  would  permit  women  to  vote  in  all  primary  elections 
and  hold  certain  offices.   The  second  was  a  resolution  pro- 
viding for  a  constitutional  amendment  granting  equal  suffrage 
to  be  submitted  to  the  voters  for  ratification.   Governor 
Jennings  wrote  both  measures.  ...   In  the  House,  W.  H. 
Marshall  of  Broward  introduced  the  two  measures.  .  .  . 

Companion  bills  were  introduced  in  the  Senate  by  W.  L. 


Hughlett  of  Cocoa." 

The  legislature  balked  at  passing  the  primary  suf- 
frage bill,  but  the  state  constitutional  amendment  resolu- 
tion was  reported  out  of  committee.   On  April  20,  debate 
on  the  bill  began  in  the  Senate.   It  was  long  and  at  times 
heated.   Senators  Hughlett,  W.  A.  McWilliams  of  St.  Augus- 
tine, James  E.  Alexander  of  DeLand ,  Carlton  of  Tampa, 
Farris  of  Jacksonville,  A.  S.  Wells  of  Tallahassee,  John  L. 

Moore  of  DeFuniak  Springs,  and  H.  L.  Oliver  of  Appalachicola 

supported  the  resolution.    John  B.  Johnson,  president  of 

the  Senate,  led  the  opposition.   Opponents  argued  that  if 
women  had  the  right  to  vote,  blacks  would  also  want  to  vote 
in  the  Democratic  primaries.   Others  feared  that  equal  suf- 
frage would  destroy  "home  and  American  motherhood."   Adopting 
both  prohibition  and  equal  suffrage  in  one  year  was  just 
too  much  for  some  legislators.   The  bill  was  defeated  by  a 
vote  of  eighteen  to  eight.   Three  days  later,  however,  the 


resolution  was  brought  up  for  reconsideration  at  a  time 

when  some  of  the  measure's  opponents  were  absent.   The 


resolution  passed  by  a  vote  of  twenty-three  to  seven. 

Supporters  were  jubilant.   Women  who  had  kept  an  around- 
the-clock  vigil  and  who  were  seated  in  the  gallery  cheered 
wildly  when  the  results  were  announced.   The  battle  then 
shifted  to  the  House  of  Representatives. 

House  debate  was  likewise  vigorous.   The  very  vocal 
minority  was  led  by  Hardee.   After  two  days  of  debate,  the 
measure  was  defeated  by  a  margin  of  five  votes.   The  fol- 
lowing day  the  resolution  was  reconsidered  but  it  again 
lost.   The  primary  suffrage  bill  failed  even  to  clear 
committee,  and  May  asked  to  have  it  withdrawn.   A  bill 
favoring  presidential  suffrage  was  not  even  introduced. 
Interestingly,  while  these  battles  were  going  on,  the  leg- 
islature was  passing  a  municipal  suffrage  bill  which  gave 
women  the  right  to  vote  in  local  elections.   Governor  Catts 
signed  it  into  law  on  May  7,  1917. 

May  was  disappointed  but  gratified  that  at  least  the 
women,  against  great  odds,  had  come  within  five  votes  of 
securing  approval  of  a  state  constitutional  amendment  which 
would  have  granted  them  the  franchise.   For  her  there  was 
victory  even  in  defeat.   She  saw  the  effort  as  an  event 
which  provided  Florida  women  with  a  political  education  and 
which  showed  them  what  they  had  to  fight  against.   However, 
many  suffragists,  especially  those  in  South  Florida,  were 


not  satisfied  with  the  actions  of  the  lawmakers  or  with 
May  Jennings'  leadership.   Several  clubs  threatened  to 
withdraw  from  the  Federation.   They  blamed  May  for  what 
they  believed  was  poor  judgment  and  of  buckling  under  to 
the  men  by  allowing  the  primary  suffrage  bill  to  be  with- 
drawn.  May  was  also  attacked  by  the  Miami  Metropolis. 
Always  the  pragmatist,  May  explained  that  she  had  faced 
reality  when  she  had  withdrawn  the  bill;  she  had  realized 
that  defeat  of  the  bill  was  inevitable  and  she  had  decided 
to  cut  her  losses.   She  felt  it  was  better  to  leave  the 
legislators  thinking  well  of  the  women  and  the  Federation 
than  to  force  a  long  drawn  out,  no  win,  confrontation. 

She  wrote  a  friend,  "I  am  rather  disgusted  that  all 
of  my  efforts  put  forth  in  behalf  of  suffrage  should  have 
been  so  misinterpreted.  ...   I  have  worked  very  hard  for 
the  bills  but  felt  it  would  be  better  to  have  all  than  only 
halfway  measures.  ...   It  would  give  the  men  a  loop  hole  to 
say  they  had  given  us  something.   It  would  make  it  harder 
for  us  to  secure  full  suffrage  in  time  to  come.  ...   It  is 
much  better  to  push  and  work  for  a  better  campaign  for  the 
next  two  years,  and  stir  up  interest  in  the  constitutional 
amendment.   I  am  frank  to  say  there  will  have  to  be  a  great 
deal  of  work  done  among  the  women  of  Florida,  and  be  sure 
there  will  be  no  representatives  returned  to  the  legislature 
who  will  not  support  the  suffrage  amendment.   This  means  a 
great  deal  of  work,  if  we  thoroughly  organize  the 


state,  and  begin  at  once,  there  is  no  reason  why  we  should 

not  succeed . " 

Considering  the  atmosphere  surrounding  the  1917 
legislative  session — the  country  at  war,  a  controversial 
new  governor,  and  two  major  emotional  issues — the  results 
of  the  session  were  probably  as  good  as  could  have  been 
expected,  but  May  was  nevertheless  disappointed.   She  was 
especially  distressed  at  the  failure  to  get  the  park  appro- 
priation.  She  wrote,  "I  am  brokenhearted,  after  all  our 
work  and  the  promises  made  us  .  .  .  the  House  refused  to 
let  the  park  bill  come  up.   I  know  now  more  than  ever  that 
women  must  have  the  vote  is  they  are  to  accomplish  anything. 
The  legislature  gave  away  thousands  to  themselves  but  the 
only  thing  asked  by  the  women  they  never  intended  from  the 
first  to  grant.  ...   I  am  worn  out  with  our  so  called 
wonderful  lawmakers  and  I  am  beginning  to  think  that  women 
are  fools  to  work  as  they  do  for  the  good  of  the  world  .  .  , 

the  men  make  promises  one  minute  and  vote  the  other  way  the 

next."    In  spite  of  the  failure,  May  planned  to  resubmit 

her  park  bill  to  the  1919  legislature.   She  informed  one 

club  officer  that  the  park  committee  was  also  thinking  of 

submitting  a  bill  to  create  still  another  state  park  on 

the  Suwannee  River,  "which  would  of  course  include  a  great 

deal  of  the  river  bank . " 

At  the  conclusion  of  the  legislative  session,  May 

began  immediately  to  make  plans  for  another  state  tour. 


Now,  besides  her  responsibilities  for  the  Federation,  she 
had  accepted  new  duties  connected  with  the  war.   She  was 
serving  on  the  General  Federation's  war  emergency  committee. 
Herbert  Hoover,  head  of  the  United  States  Food  Administra- 
tion, had  appointed  her  to  Florida's  State  Food  Commission, 
an  agency  which  was  charged  with  publicizing  the  need  to 
produce  and  conserve  food.   Governor  Catts  had  appointed 
her  to  the  Florida  chapter  of  the  Council  for  National 
Defense,  to  the  state  commission  on  sanitation  of  army  and 
navy  camps,  and  to  the  state's  Library  War  Council,  which 
was  supposed  to  raise  a  portion  of  a  national  goal  of 
$1,000,000.   May  was  also  in  charge  of  organizing  Red  Cross 
volunteers  from  among  the  state's  women's  clubs,  and  she 
was  appointed  chairman  of  the  state's  Liberty  Loan  Drive. 

Florida  women  engaged  in  all  types  of  war  work. 
Thousands  signed  pledge  cards  to  conserve  food,  volunteered 
for  Red  Cross  work,  saved  books  and  magazines  for  the  armed 
forces  camps ,  staffed  canteens  and  hospitality  houses  for 
the  soldiers,  and  sewed  sweaters,  muffs,  and  caps  for  the 
troops.   They  collected  hundreds  of  pounds  of  string  and 
tin  foil,  a  practice  which  caused  Governor  Jennings  much 
consternation  and  inconvenience  as  the  stuff  was  stored  in 
the  Jennings '  home  until  it  could  be  bundled  and  shipped  to 
Washington,  D.  C.   Some  Florida  women  objected  to  any  German 
music  being  played  at  club  functions.   At  the  1917  conven- 
tion, many  protested  over  the  music  committee's  plans  to 


play  selections  from  Beethoven,  Mendelsohn,  and  Wagner. 
President  Wilson  himself  was  wired  and  asked  for  an  opinion, 
he  replied  that  "he  did  not  regard  the  use  of  good  music  as 
unpatriotic."    One  clubwoman  informed  May  that  she  "went 

out  and  pulled  up  all  of  the  German  iris  plants  in  her 

garden  after  war  had  been  declared. " 

Clubwomen  were  also  worried  about  the  questions  of 
the  "moral  purity"  and  unsanitary  atmosphere  that  surrounded 
the  new  army  camps  in  Florida.   The  rise  in  liquor  consump- 
tion and  in  prostitution  alarmed  many  citizens.   Camp 
Johnston  near  Jacksonville  received  most  of  the  attention. 
May,  an  avowed  prohibitionist  and  member  of  the  state's 
sanitation  commission,  led  the  drive  to  make  the  area 
around  the  camp  "dry."   This  task  was  eventually  accomplished 
when  the  federal  government  declared  that  all  camps  in  the 
nation  were  to  be  surrounded  by  zones  which  would  preserve 
their  "moral  purity."   May's  war  work  soon  overwhelmed  her 

Federation  duties  and  she  wrote  a  colleague,  "This  war  busi- 

3  8 
ness  has  just  about  put  me  in  bed."    By  autumn  she  had  four 

stenographers  and  six  volunteers  helping  her  with  her  paper 
work . 

Of  course,  her  regular  Federation  responsibilities 
continued;  she  just  worked  longer  and  harder  than  ever  be- 
fore.  Planning  for  the  new  girls'  industrial  school  in  Marion 
County  consumed  a  lot  of  her  time.   The  Federation  had  sub- 
mitted plans  to  the  governor  and  to  the  state  board  of 


control  regarding  the  establishment  of  a  family-style 
cottage  system  of  housing  like  the  one  adopted  for  the 
boys'  school.   The  officials  ignored  this  concept,  even 
though  the  legislature  had  recommended  the  cottage  plan, 
and  decided  that  a  barracks-style  campus  would  be  erected. 
May  wrote  to  Florence  Cay:   "We  are  in  a  stew  about  the 
Girl's  School  because  the  board  is  planning  a  large  build- 
ing with  a  flat  roof  for  the  school  instead  of  the  cottage 
plan  which  has  been  adopted.   The  Ocala  women  are  up  in 

arms.   We  have  to  see  what  we  can  do  about  it  right  away. 

I  shall  write  the  Governor  at  once."    After  an  exchange 

of  telegrams  and  letters  with  Catts  and  the  board  members, 
May  was  informed  that  plans  would  go  forward  for  construc- 
tion of  the  barrack-style  dormitory.   Angry  and  frustrated, 
May  wrote  Elizabeth  Hocker ,  an  Ocala  resident,  "I  never  saw 
anything  like  this  board.   They  seem  to  think  they  know  it 
all,  and  that  the  fact  that  they  are  officially  elected 

gives  them  unusual  ability  and  knowledge  without  ever 


having  to  study  a  question."   So  it  was  that  the  boys' 

got  family  cottages;  and  the  girls  '  barracks . 

During  the  summer  of  1917,  May  outfitted  the  park's 
new  lodge.   She  purchased  linens,  kitchen  appliances,  and 
furniture  for  the  living  quarters,  and  twelve  large  hickory 
rockers,  at  a  cost  of  $2.25  each,  for  the  screenporch.   The 
Homestead  clubwomen  made  braided  rugs  for  the  lodge's 
floors,  and  other  clubs  sent  bedspreads  and  curtains.   The 


Federation  had  small  handbills  distributed  throughout  the 
state  extolling  the  virtues  of  the  park  and  the  facility 
was  now  receiving  visitors  on  a  regular  basis.   May  super- 
vised the  landscaping  around  the  lodge,  and  instructed 
Mosier  to  plant  roses  and  brilliant  red  bouganvilleas  near 
the  front  door.   Both  he  and  May  worried  about  grassfires 
which  continually  threatened  the  park  and  about  a  disease 
that  was  attacking  South  Florida's  royal  palms.   This  fungus 
eventually  destroyed  many  of  the  park's  palms.   During 
September,  May  held  a  Federation  board  of  directors  meeting 
at  the  park.   While  there  the  women  decorated  the  lodge  and 
had  their  picture  taken. 

Other  Federation  committees  were  supervised  but  they 
did  not  require  as  much  attention.   Lena  Hawkins,  who  was 
on  the  board  of  governnors  of  the  Florida  Good  Roads  As- 
sociation as  well  as  a  member  of  the  Federation's  good 
roads  committee,  continued  to  keep  the  busy  president  amused. 
She  wrote  May,  "I  got  a  deep  breath  into  the  port  ear  of 
the  chairman  of  our  county  commissioners  the  other  night 
and  told  him  that  unless  he  got  that  portion  of  the  road 
between  here  [Brooksville]  and  Aripeka  put  in  shape,  I 
would  set  the  whole  Federation  on  him  .  .  .  now  you  know  he 
will,  or  I'll  camp  on  his  trail  until  he  does."    The  good 
roads  committee  remained  one  of  the  Federation's  most 
aggressive  groups. 


Suffrage  continued  to  be  a  subject  of  concern  for 
many  of  the  Federation's  officers.   May  continued  to  stay 
in  touch  with  Mary  Jewett,  and  together  they  developed 
plans  to  make  the  suffrage  issues  a  subject  of  formal  study 
within  every  club  of  the  Federation.   May  also  corresponded 
with  Ivy  Stranahan,  the  new  president  of  the  Florida  Equal 
Suffrage  Association,  and  helped  her  make  arrangements  for 
that  organization's  convention  to  be  held  the  same  week  in 
Tampa  as  the  upcoming  Federation  convention. 

The  Florida  Federation  of  Women's  Clubs  convened 
its  twenty-third  annual  meeting  in  November  of  1917.   Con- 
vention business  was  primarily  devoted  to  mobilizing  the 
women  for  the  war  effort,  electing  new  officers,  and  pro- 
moting suffrage,  good  roads,  and  public  health.   Rose  Lewis 
(Mrs.  Edgar  Lewis),  of  Fort  Pierce  was  elected  president  to 
succeed  May,  whose  name  was  submitted  to  the  General  Federa- 
tion as  a  Florida  director.   May  was  also  appointed  chair- 
man of  the  Federation's  conservation  committee,  a  position 
she  accepted  because  of  her  attachment  to  the  park. 

In  her  final  address  as  president  of  the  Federation, 
May  thanked  the  members  for  their  help  during  her  three- 
year  administration,  and  she  listed  all  that  had  been 
achieved  during  that  period.   She  was  particularly  proud  of 
the  creation  of  Royal  Palm  Park,  and  the  construction  of 
its  facilities.   She  was  also  pleased  with  the  endorsement 
of  equal  suffrage  at  two  Federation  conventions  and  its  near 


acceptance  by  the  1917  legislature,  passage  of  a  prohibi- 
tion resolution,  establishment  of  the  Federation's  endow- 
ment fund,  creation  of  the  girls'  industrial  school  near 
Ocala,  the  anti-tuberculosis  work  which  was  begun  in 
every  Florida  community,  adoption  of  Red  Cross  work  within 
the  Federation,  promotion  of  rural  extension  work,  and  the 
growth  in  Federation  membership,  now  numbering  more  than 
10,000  women.   She  reported  that  in  three  years  she  had 

handled  15,132  pieces  of  mail,  had  made  innumerable  speeches, 

and  had  traveled  26,543  miles  on  club  business.    May,  one 

of  the  Federation's  most  popular  presidents  ever,  was  given 

the  Federation's  large  wooden  gavel  as  a   permanent  token 

of  esteem  and  appreciation.   But  May  Jennings'  service  to 

the  Federation  and  the  state  were  hardly  finished.   New 

challenges  lay  ahead. 


Notes  to  Chapter  VII 

Kate  V.  Jackson  to  May  Jennings,-  December  10,  1914. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  4. 

Florence  (Cay)  to  May  Jennings,  December  4,  1914. 

MMJ  Papers,  Box  4. 


Rose  A.  Lewis  to  May  Jennings,  December  8,  1914. 

MMJ  Papers,  Box  4. 

"Tallahassee  Weekly  True  Democrat ,  December  11,  1914. 

May  Jennings  to  Mrs.  William  Hocker,  January  8,  1915 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  5. 

"Florida  Federation  of  Women's  Clubs,''  1915.   MMJ 
Papers ,  Box  5 . 

Lena  Hawkins  to  May  Jennings,  n.d.   MMJ  Papers, 

Box  5. 

May  Jennings  to  Mary  Coogler,  February  9,  1915. 

MMJ  Papers,  Box  5. 

May  Jennings  to  Elizabeth  Kocker ,  April  5,  1915. 
MMJ  Papers,  Eox  5. 

Lucy  Lock  to  May  Jennings,  April  9,  1915.   MMJ 
Papers,  Box  5. 

"J. A.  Hendley,  History  of  Pasco  County,-  Florida 
[1941],  p.  15. 


May  Jennings  to  Mrs.  John  McGriff,  April  30,  19 lo. 

MMJ  Papers,  Box  5. 

Lena  Shackleford  to  May  Jennings  [May,  1915] . 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  5. 


Telegrams.   Bryan  Jennings  to  May  Jennings,  June 

2,  1915;  William  S.  Jennings  to  May  Jennings,  June  3,  1915. 
MMJ  Papers.  Box  6. 

Kenneth  R.  Johnson,  "The  Woman  Suffrage  Movement  in 
Florida"  (Ph.D.  dissertation,  Florida  State  University, 
1966) ,  passim.   Johnson  lists  twenty-eight  leagues  in 
Florida  between  June,  1912,  and  November,  1930,  p.  55. 


Edith  Stoner  to  May  Jennings,  July  11,  1915. 
MMJ  Papers ,  Box  6 . 

L.B.E.  [Mrs.  R.A.  Ellis]  to  May  Jennings,  August 
28,  1915.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  6. 

18May  Jennings  to  Mrs.  T.V.  Moore,  September  8,  1915. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  6. 

Speech,  "Woman's  Opportunity,"  FFWC  Yearbook, 
1915-16,  pp.  26-31. 

20May  Jennings  to  Charles  Moiser,  February  23,  1916. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  8. 

21  - 

May  Jennings  to  Mary  Munroe ,  n.d.   MMJ  Papers, 

Box  9  . 

May  Jennings  to  Charles  Moiser,  April  3,  1916. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  8. 

Miami  Herald,  November  24,  1916. 



26Womans  Journal,  XVIII,  April,  1917.   Quoted  in 
Johnson,  "Woman's  Suffrage, "  p.  87. 

2 'Sidney  J.  Catts  to  May  Jennings,  May  8,  1917. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  10. 

2  "WCTU  rally  song."   MMJ  Papers,  Box  10. 

29May  Jennings  to  Mrs.  E.C.  Loveland,  May  3,  1917. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  10. 

30 Johnson,  "Woman's  Suffrage,"  p.  210 

31Ibid. ,  p.  212. 

32Ibid. ,  p.  214. 

May  Jennings  to  Mrs.  T.V.  Moore,  May  15,  1917. 
MMJ  Papers ,  Box  10 . 

3 'May  Jennings  to  Marie  Randall,  May  30,  1917;  May 
Jennings  to  Florence  Cay,  May  29,  1917.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  10 


-5  r^ 

May  Jennings  to  Mrs.  John  D.  Sherman,  May  21,  1917 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  10. 

36Woodrow  Wilson  to  FFWC,  November  21,  1917.   MMJ 
Papers,  Box  11. 

37Carrie  McCollum  to  May  Jennings,  November  27,  1917 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  11. 

38May  Jennings  to  Mrs.  M.L.  Stanley,  July  20,  1917. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  10. 

39May  Jennings  to  Florence  Cay,  May  26,  1917.   MMJ 
Papers,  Box  10. 

40May  Jennings  to  Mrs.  William  Kocker,  June  5,  1917. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  10. 

41Lena  Hawkins  to  May  Jennings,  June  4,  1917.   MMJ 
Papers,  Box  10. 

42"Report  of  President  of  FFWC,"  November,  1917. 

MMJ  Papers,  Box  11 


The  years  following  her  tenure  as  president  of  the 
Federation  were  May  Jennings'  busiest  and  most  successful. 
During  the  war  she  served  on  numerous  state  mobilization 
boards  and  committees,  including  the  State  Food  Commission, 
National  Defense  Council,  Library  War  Council,  War  Savings 
Council,  Belgian  Relief  Committee,  and  the  Armenian-Syrian 
Relief  Committee.   Her  most  diligent  efforts  were  expended 
on  behalf  of  Liberty  Loan  work.   Prior  to  the  end  of  her 
presidential  term  she  had  been  appointed  state  chairman  of 
Florida's  Woman's  Liberty  Loan  Committee  and  had  the  re- 
sponsibility of  organizing  the  women  and  setting  up  ma- 
chinery for  the  five  loan  drives. 

Americans  viewed  the  war  idealistically ,  with  fervor 
and  patriotic  zeal.   The  conflict  was  perceived  as  the 
battle  to  "make  the  world  safe  for  democracy."   Scores  of 
mobilization  committees  urged  citizens  to  buy  war  bonds, 
grow  victory  gardens,  join  the  Red  Cross,  volunteer  their 
services  to  hospitals  and  hospitality  houses,  save  food, 
cloth,  paper,  and  other  commodities,  and  to  join  the  armed 
forces.   The  public  was  exhorted  to  "Give  Until  it  Hurts," 
and  to  "Beat  Back  the  Hun."   Housewives  were  urged  to  "Can 
vegetables,  fruit,  and  the  Kaiser,  too,"  and  to  make  "Every 
Garden  a  Munitions  Plant 




Anti-German  feelings  ran  high  and  included  the  boy- 
cotting of  German  music  and  food.   Dachunds  were  renamed 
"liberty  pups,'-  frankfurters  became  "liberty  sausages,"  and 

sauerkraut,  "liberty  cabbage."   The  populace  endured  "wheat- 

less,"  "meatless,"  "heatless,"  and  "lightless   days. 

Families  with  members  serving  in  the  armed  forces  hung  a 
red  and  white  service  flag  in  a  window  of  their  home,  with 
a  blue  star  on  it  for  each  person  in  uniform.   If  service- 
men died  in  the  war,  a  gold  star  was  sewn  over  the  blue. 
One  thousand  and  forty-six  Floridians  perished  in  the  con- 
flict.  The  Jennings  family  did  their  part  in  the  war  effort 
and  doubled  the  production  of  vegetables,  beef,  and  poultry 
on  their  Kiddleburg  farm.   Bryan  Jennings,  a  recent  graduate 
of  law  school,  joined  the  navy  and  became  an  intelligence 
officer.   He  was  stationed  first  at  Washington,  D.  C. ,  and 
then  at  Key  West.   During  the  conflict  he  married  his  child- 
hood friend,  Dorothy  Isabel  Brown. 

Jacksonville,  as  well  as  Pensacola,  Tampa,  Miami, 
and  Key  West,  was  especially  affected  by  the  war.   It  be- 
came a  ship  building  center  of  some  importance,  and  the 
development  of  Camp  Johnston,  near  Orange  Park,  brought 
thousands  of  soldiers  and  their  families  into  the  area. 
Housing  shortages,  economic  inflation,  and  increases  in 
crime  troubled  the  community.   Jacksonville  became  known 
as  the  "booze  oasis"  of  north  Florida.   May  and  other 
prominent  prohibitionists  worked  hard  to  quarantine  the 


military  facility  and  to  place  it  in  a  dry  zone.   After  a 

bitter  struggle  May  wrote  a  friend,  "We  had  an  awful  fight 

here  for  the  wet  and  dry  election,  but  won  out."   The  "moral 

sanitation"  surrounding  Camp  Johnston  was  attacked,  too, 
and  became  an  important  issue  among  clubwomen,  who  under 
May's  leadership,  sent  President  Wilson  and  other  government 
officials  a  resolution  regarding  the  moral  climate  near  the 
camp.   During  the  effort  to  establish  a  zone  of  moral 
purity,  May  obtained  for  distribution  pamphlets  from  the 
American  Social  Hygiene  Association.   One  such  pamphlet 
was  entitled  "Prostitution  in  its  Relation   to  the  Army  on 
the  Mexican  Border. " 

Hundreds  of  Jacksonville  women  participated  in  the 
war  effort.   Many  volunteered  to  sell  bonds  and  stamps. 
Others  joined  the  Red  Cross  and  served  on  its  first  aid, 
nursing,  relief,  and  hospitality  committees.   Leaders  of 
the  local  Red  Cross  branch  included  Louise  Meigs,  Annie 
Broward,  Minerva  Jennings,  Ninah  Cummer,  Lina  Barnett,  and 
May,  who  was  responsible  for  the  acquisition  and  distribu- 
tion of  supplies,  food,  and  clothing  to  area  families  ad- 
versly  affected  by  the  war.   During  the  conflict  Red  Cross 
volunteers  in  Duval  County  made,  packaged,  and  shipped 
over  one  million  surgical  items.   In  addition  to  her  Red 
Cross  duties,  May  also  served  on  the  Jacksonville  Commis- 
sion on  Training  Camp  Activities  which  coordinated  invita- 
tions to  convelescing  soldiers,  inviting  them  to  partake  of 
meals  and  social  entertainment  in  private  homes. 


May  Jennings  was  an  excellent  person  to  head  the 
state's  Woman's  Liberty  Loan  Committee  for  she  knew  how  to 

organize  Florida  women.   She  wrote  at  that  time,  "I  prob- 

ii  7 
ably  know  more  women  in  the  state  than  any  other  woman.. 

She  and  her  staff  sent  out  letters  to  clubwomen  throughout 
Florida  enlisting  their  support  in  the  program.   Non-club- 
women were  solicited  as  well,  but  clubwomen  proved  the 
most  ready  to  help  and  furnished  the  bulk  of  the  workers. 
The  first  need  was  for  chairmen  in  each  of  the  state's 
fifty-four  counties.   In  turn  these  chairmen  had  to  secure 
assistants  and  scores  of  general  volunteers.   Hundreds  of 

letters  and  printed  pamphlets  were  mailed  before  enough 

chairmen  could  be  secured  to  begin  the  work.    No  city  or 

hamlet  was  ignored.   One  volunteer,  Etta  Silverf riend,  was 
even  recruited  from  the  Koreshan  Unity  community  in  Lee 
County.   Most  women  agreed  to  help,  but  few  were  willing  to 
assume  supervisory  tasks  or  take  on  the  responsibilities  of 
a  county  chairmanship.   The  old-girl  network  came  to  the 
rescue,  however,  and  many  of  the  Federation's  state  and 
local  officers  assumed  county  chairmanships. 

Occasionally  May  would  have  difficulty  organizing  a 
county  and  her  usual  patience  would  run  out.   Then  she  would 
angrily  write  to  those  local  women  who  had  refused  to  par- 
ticipate in  the  loan  work.   To  one  recalcitrant  group  she 
wrote,  "I  must  confess  that  it  is  quite  a  surprise  to  me 
that  none  of  you  Fernandina  women  seem  to  realize  the  great 


importance  of  financing  the  war  .  .  .  When  women  are  giving 
their  sons  to  the  trenches,  it  does  not  seem  possible  to  me 
that  anyone  should  feel  they  have  a  right  to  refuse  a  request 
from  their  government  as  long  as  they  have  strength  to  hold 
out.   Will  you  kindly  say  to  the  women  whom  you  have  consulted 
about  this  work  that  I  more  often  than  not  work  until  two 
o'clock  at  night.  .  .  .   The  soldiers  have  in  a  way  sacrificed 

their  lives  uselessly,  while  some  women  have  stood  idly  by, 

unwilling  to  assist."   Many  chairwomen  wrote  May  of  their 

difficulties  in  enlisting  enough  volunteers.   To  these  ladies 

May  would  send  cheery  but  humbling  letters.   To  one  she  wrote, 

"you  must  not  get  discouraged.  ...   If  you  had  54  counties 

to  furnish  with  chairmen,  you'd  have  something  to  complain  of, 

so  be  thankful  you  have  only  one  county  to  look  after." 

May  worked  tirelessly  throughout  the  war.   The  loan 

campaigns  were  administered  out  of  Washington  through 

regional  headquarters.   During  the  course  of  the  conflict 

she  made  frequent  trips  to  the  nation's  capital  and  to 

Atlanta  to  attend  high  level  loan  meetings.   With  her  other 

club  duties,  in  addition  to  her  war  committee  work,  she 

never  seemed  to  have  time  to  relax.   During  this  period, 

she  wrote  a  friend,  "This  war  business  has  just  about  put 

•   U  A     -11 
me  in  bed . 

May  also  had  the  responsibility  of  arranging  tours 
and  schedules  of  the  national  personalities  who  came  into 
Florida  speaking  on  behalf  of  bond  sales  and  food  conserva- 
tion.  During  the  war  she  accompanied  several  speakers  on 


tours,  including  Jane  Addams,  of  Chicago,  who  was  a 
Jennings  house  guest.   At  another  time  she  accompanied  Mrs. 
Antoinette  Funk,  national  vice-president  of  the  liberty 
loan  committee,  on  a  swing  down  the  Florida  east  coast. 
They  visited  over  twenty  towns.   At  Daytona  they  spoke  to 
some  800  people,  and  in  Miami  they  addressed  a  crowd  esti- 
mated at  over  3,000  in  number.   Everywhere  they  exhorted 
their  listeners,  most  of  whom  were  women,  to  buy  bonds  and 
to  volunteer  as  sales  persons.    On  another  drive  May  accom- 
panied Sargeant-Major  Edward  Lowery,  a  decorated  English 

soldier,  on  a  tour  of  the  state.   At  other  times  she  alone 

was  the  featured  speaker  at  community  rallies. 

Selling  bonds  was  not  without  its  hazards.   The 
women,  who  wore  identifying  arm  bands  and  buttons,  canvassed 
every  community  in  the  state.   It  was  tiring  work,  a  nation- 
wide influenza  epidemic  nearly  cancelled  the  fourth  loan 
drive,  and  May  often  had  to  travel  to  many  unfamiliar  out- 
of-the-way  places.   Soliciting  in  some  parts  of  Florida 
offered  its  own  unique  perils.   One  county  chairman  wrote 
May,  "I  have  just  returned  from  Crystal  River  and  the  in- 
sects nearly  ate  me  up.   A  whole  regiment  of  German  mosqui- 
toes attacked  me.    Casualty  list:   5  seriously  wounded. 

The  enemy  were  driven  back  with  heavy  losses,  but  I  lost 

some  mighty  good  American  blood . " 

Liberty  Loan  and  food  conservation  work  put  May  in 

contact  with  many  black  women  throughout  the  state,  and 


encouraged  cooperation  between  clubwomen  of  both  races. 
She  had  previously  corresponded  with  Mary  McLeod  Bethune, 
president  of  the  Florida  Colored  Women's  Federation,  re- 
garding public  health  matters.   During  the  war  she  wrote 
her,  "I  am  exceedingly  interested  in  the  war  work  among  the 
negro  women  of  Florida,  and  I  have  had  a  great  deal  of 
pleasure  in  cooperating  with  Eartha  M.  M.  White,  president 
of  the  City  Federation  of  Jacksonville.   She  is  an  exceed- 
ingly bright  and  energetic  women,  and  seems  never  to  be 
weary  in  well  doing.   The  colored  people  of  Jacksonville 
owe  her  a  great  deal  more  than  they  realize.  .  .  .   The  pro- 
duction and  conservation  of  food  and  the  elimination  of  waste 

is  being  pushed  thoroughly  and  successfully  among  the 


colored  women. "    Unfortunately,  racism  still  pervaded  the 

South  and  after  repeated  attempts  by  national  leaders  to 
bring  black  women  into  the  liberty  loan  program  the  idea 
was  dropped.   Cooperation  between  the  women  of  the  two  races 
continued  elsewhere  in  the  nation,  and  May  continued  to 
correspond  and  work  with  Mrs.  Bethune  and  Miss  White  and 
to  help  them  organize  war  work  among  blacks.   She  later 
publically  acknowledged  that  the  black  women  of  Florida  had 
done  much  to  promote  the  conservation  of  food  and  the  buying 
of  bonds  and  stamps. 

Each  lib3rty  loan  drive  was  accompanied  by  public 
rallies,  parades,  bonfires,  band  concerts,  military  demon- 
strations, and  other  publicity  gimmicks,  which  the  loan 


people  referred  to  as  "stunts."   These  activities  were 
designed  to  arouse  the  people's  patriotic  spirit.   During 
the  fifth   and  last  loan  drive,  April  1919,  May  and  other 
city  leaders  arranged  to  have  the  Carlstrom  Flying  Circus 
perform  over  Jacksonville.   One  contemporary  remembered 
that  the  aerial  team  "dived,  looped,  rolled,  and  roared  to 

simulate  aerial  combat  as  crowds  took  to  their  rooftops  to 

get  a  better  view,  and  watch  open  mouthed  with  awe."    In 

addition  to  the  air  circus,  an  army  tank  on  tour  was  en- 
gaged to  demolish  an  abandoned  building  located  downtown. 
These  two  events  brought  one  of  the  largest  Florida  crowds 
ever  to  assemble  during  the  war.   At  the  conclusion  of  the 
conflict  May  turned  in  her  final  loan  report  to  the  Wash- 
ington authorities.   She  could  be  proud  of  the  record 
Florida  women  had  achieved.   To  their  credit  they  had  sold 
over  $17,000,000  in  savings  bonds,  certificates,  and  stamps 
This  was  in  addition  to  the  amount  which  had  been  sold  by 
Florida  men. 

During  the  war  May's  interest  in  other  activities 
continued  unabated.   On  January  24,  1917,  she  organized 
the  Duval  County  Federation  of  Women's  Clubs,  an  amalga- 
mation of  twenty-four  separate  organizations  which  over 
the  years  was  to  lend  its  united  support  to  a  number  of 
important  social  and  civic  issues.   She  served  as  an 
officer  of  this  organization  for  many  years.    From  1917 
to  1919  she  was  director  of  the  Florida  Anti-Tuberculosis 


Association,  and  made  numerous  speeches  throughout  the 
state.   The  association  sought  not  only  to  reduce  the  spread 
of  the  disease  by  improving  public  sanitation,  but  urged 
the  establishment  of  a  state  sanatorium.   In  June  1917, 
the  Jennings  family  attended  one  ceremony  in  Middleburg 
which  marked  the  opening  of  the  "Bryan  Jennings"  bridge 
over  Black  Creek,  replacing  the  ferry  which  had  operated 
there  for  many  years.   May  and  Governor  Jennings,  who  were 
Middleburg 's  most  prominent  citizens,  supported  their  son 
in  his  efforts  to  get  the  bridge  and  its  opening  was  an 
important  event  in  the  history  of  the  isolated  little 

During  December  1917,  May  was  called  upon  to  help 
female  telephone  operators  in  Jacksonville  who  had  gone  on 
strike.   She  wrote  Mrs.  Raymond  Robbins  of  the  National 
Woman's  Trade  Union  League  in  Chicago,  and  urged  her  to 
come  to  Jacksonville,  to  guide  the  women  in  their  demands. 
She  also  wrote  J.  C.  Privett,  state  labor  inspector,  and 

asked  him  for  a  list  of  industries  in  Florida  which  employed 

women.    With  statistics  from  Privett  she  organized  a 

campaign  to  publicize  the  women's  plight  and  to  get  a  more 
liberal  hours  and  wages  bill  passed  by  the  Florida  legis- 
lature.  Unfortunately  she  was  not  successful  in  her  legis- 
lative effort,  but  she  did  bring  the  operators'  working 
conditions  to  the  attention  of  the  appropriate  Jacksonville 
officials.   The  telephone  strike  proved  shortlived,  but  it 


served  to  ease  conditions  under  which  the  women  worked. 
Real  relief  for  working  women  would  not  come  until  federal 
laws  were  passed  later  by  congress. 

May's  work  on  behalf  of  women's  suffrage  continued 
unabated.   During  1918  and  1919  she  and  other  suffragists 
kept  pressure  on  Florida's  congressional  delegations  and 
especially  the  state's  two  Senators,  Park  Trammell  and 
Duncan  Fletcher,  to  vote  for  the  Anthony  Amendment,  the 
suffrage  bill  which  was  pending  in  Congress.   Both  senators 
adamately  refused  to  change  their  antagonistic  views  about 
women's  rights  despite  the  fact  that  May  and  her  colleagues 
launched  a  campaign  to  swamp  them  with,  what  the  women 
called,  "hot  stuff"  letters.   After  Fletcher  coolly  re- 
plied to  one  of  May's  "hot  stuff"  letters,  in  which  she 
had  enclosed  a  list  of  all  the  Florida  newspapers  which  were 
supporting  equal  suffrage,  she  wrote  Dr.  Mary  Jewett,  an 
ardent  suffragist,  "the  stubborness  of  these  men  makes  me 

sick.   I  do  not  care  if  either  is  defeated.   I  am  going  to 

1 8 

support  the  man  who  supports  suffrage."    Dr.  Jewett  re- 
plied, "It  will  be  a  great  day  when  we  no  longer  have  to 

have  suffrage  societies  and  political  equality  committees 

and  when  we  are  recognized  as  'real  folks'." 

When  Dr.  Anna  Shaw,  the  nationally  known  suffragist, 

visited  Florida  on  a  speaking  tour,  May  introduced  her  to 

a  Jacksonville  audience.   May  later  received  from  Dr.  Shaw 

a  card  with  a  picture  of  Susan  B.  Anthony.   It  also 


contained  the  Anthony  quote  which  May  repeated  whenever 
she  gave  a  speech:   "To  desire  liberty  for  one's  self  is 
a  natural  instinct  .  .  .  but  to  be  willing  to  accord 

liberty  to  another  is  the  result  of  education,  of  self 

discipline,  and  the  practice  of  the  golden  rule." 

During  the  Florida  primary  in  June  1918,  the  suffragists 

worked  openly  for  candidates  who  had  supported  suffrage  in 

the  past  or  who  promised  to  do  so  in  the  future.   May  wrote 

of  one  of  the  candidates,  "he  opposed  everything  women  asked 

for  during  the  last  legislature  and  I  am  anxious  to  see  him 

2 1 
left  at  home  this  time."    But  not  only  was  this  candidate, 

George  Wilder,  reelected,  but  he  served  as  speaker  of  the 

1919  House. 

As  the  controversy  over  the  Anthony  Amendment  became 

more  active  both  May  and  Governor  Jennings  stepped  up  their 

efforts  on  its  behalf.   During  the  summer  of  1918  they  wrote 

an  open  letter  which  was  reprinted  by  the  Florida  Equal 

Suffrage  Association.   Copies  were  sent  to  the  state's 
major  newspapers,  many  of  whom  gave  it  prominent  play  in 
their  pages.   In  November,  May  addressed  both  the  FESA  and 

the  FFWC  conventions  on  the  importance  of  each  woman  doing 

her  part  to  further  the  cause  of  suffrage.    Florida  women 

were  split  between  those  who  favored  federal  suffrage  only 

and  those  who  favored  both  state  and  national  suffrage. 

Unity  was  essential,  and  it  proved  to  be  the  missing  quality 

which  kept  Florida  suffragists  from  achieving  more  success. 

In  December  1918,  May  issued  a  "white"  paper  written  to 


refute  the  argument  espoused  by  Trammell  and  Fletcher 
which  claimed  that  a  vote  for  equal  suffrage  was  an  abdi- 
cation of  the  principle  of  state  rights.   May  denounced 
this  view  and  argued  that  the  state  rights  argument  was  a 
"red  herring,"  just  an  excuse  to  oppose  suffrage  for  women. 
She  asked  the  Senators,  since  President  Wilson  and  the 
national  Democratic  party  had  endorsed  equal  suffrage, 
did  this  mean  that  they  were  no  longer  Democrats?   How 
could  they  call  the  United  States  democratic  if  one-half 
of  the  "nation  was  still  without  a  voice?" 

January  1919,  May,  Dr.  Jewett,  Ivy  Stranahan,  and 
other  suffragists  met  in  Orlando  to  discuss  the  upcoming 
legislative  session.   At  the  meeting  May  delivered  a  speech, 
"The  Two  Roads  to  Victory,"  in  which  she  again  argued  that 
women  needed  both  the  federal  equal  suffrage  amendment  and 
a  state  primary  bill.   When  the  Florida  legislature  convened 
a  few  months  later,  she  and  the  other  women  were  ready  to 
submit  their  primary  bill.    During  the  session  they  lob- 
bied tirelessly,  with  May  working  simultaneously  for  suf- 
frage as  well  as  for  bills  effecting  conservation,  park 
matters,  and  compulsory  education.   The  lawmakers  paid 
little  attention  to  the  desires  of  the  suffragists.   The 
primary  measure  failed  even  to  reach  the  floor  of  either 
chamber.   Disheartened  and  discouraged  the  women  vowed  to 
continue  to  work  for  passage  of  the  federal  amendment. 
Their  disappointment,  however,  soon  changed  for  during  that 
summer  Congress  approved  the  long  desired  nineteenth 


amendment,  and  it  was  quickly  ratified  and  made  law. 
Neither  Florida  senator  voted  for  the  amendment.   The 
Florida  legislature  did  not  endorse  the  historic  amend- 
ment until  1966. 

With  the  passage  of  the  nineteenth  amendment  the 
women's  movement  underwent  a  fundamental  change.   Numerous 
new  organizations  whose  aims  were  to  represent  women's 
views  emerged  in  the  new  political  arena.   The  Florida 
Federation  of  Women's  Clubs,  long  the  standard  bearer, 
was  no  longer  the  only  organization  to  speak  for  the  state's 
women.   Indeed,  the  Federation  underwent  a  gradual  retrench- 
ment, and  by  1930  it  no  longer  stood  as  the  progressive 
voice  of  the  women's  movement.   The  Florida  League  of  Women 

Voters  took  its  place.   The  League  was  organized  in  Palm 

Beach  County  in  August  1920.    As  a  non-partisan  organiza- 
tion, its  aim  was  the  political  education  of  women  and  the 
exercise  of  pressure  to  achieve  progressive  goals.    The 
August  1920,  birth  of  the  League  coincided  with  the  date  set 
for  the  first  voter  driver  aimed  at  registering  American 
women.   May  took  the  lead  in  Duval  County,  made  speeches  to 
publicize  the  registration  drive,  and  worked  hard  organizing 
women  to  canvass  neighborhoods.   While,  only  white  women 
were  invited  to  partake  of  the  new  democracy,  nevertheless, 

7,309  Negro  women,  in  addition  to  8,702  white  females, 

registered  in  the  county.    May's  friend,  Helen  Hunt  West, 

a  member  of  the  radical  National  Woman's  Party,  which  May 


eshewed,  was  the  first  Duval  County  woman  to  register  to 

.   28 

That  year  May  was  appointed  associate  chairman  of 
the  National  Democratic  Committee  for  Florida.   Because  of 
her  longtime  party  connections  she  was  also  asked  to  or- 
ganize a  local  Democratic  Women's  Club.   This  she  did,  and 


after  an  unsteady  start,  it  eventually  was  incorporated. 

This  small  but  powerful  group  of  women  was  recognized  by 
all  local  leaders  as  an  organization  to  be  reckoned  with. 
May  served  as  the  group's  president  for  over  nineteen 
years.   It  was  readily  acknowledged  by  those  who  held  power 
and  those  who  aspired  to  it  that  the  endorsement  of  May 
Jennings  was  a  blessing  one  could  ill  afford  to  ignore. 
May  never  held  any  political  office  herself,  but  on 
several  occasions  was  offered  a  postmistress  position  which 
she  declined.   During  the  late  1920s  many  Floridians  urged 
her  to  run  for  governor,  an  act  which  would  certainly  have 
marked  her  as  the  leading  woman  in  the  state  and  one  far 
ahead  of  her  time,  despite  the  fact  that  Florida  was  soon 
to  elect  female  legislators.   Ruth  Bryan  Owen,  daughter  of 

William  Jennings  Bryan,  and  May's  relative  by  marriage  was 

one  such  female  politician.    At  that  time  May  wrote  a 

friend,  "I  am  still  having  pressure  brought  to  bear  to  run 

for  Governor.   It  is  quite  flattering  and  complimentary 

but  I  can  keep  so  busy  without  this... I  think  I  will  just 


pursue  the  even  tenor  of  my  way. 


In  1921  the  League  of  Women  Voters  began  publishing 
The  Florida  Voter,  its  own  inhouse  organ.   The  following 
year  the  Florida  Federation  of  Women's  Clubs  established 
its  own  publication,  The  Bulletin,  later  known  as  the 
Florida  Clubwoman.   The  League  organized  its  own  committees 
on  child  welfare,  education,  the  legal  status  of  women, 
legislation,  living  costs,  social  hygiene,  women  in  indus- 
try, political  information,  and  international  cooperation. 
But,  the  League  was  different  from  the  Federation,  for  it 
was  neither  as  large  or  as  pervasive  as  the  Federation. 
For  many  years  the  League  had  chapters  only  in  Florida's 
largest  cities,  and  it  never  owned  any  clubhouses.   In 
addition,  the  women  of  the  League  were  interested  almost 
exclusively  in  political  matters.   Local,  social  and  phi- 
lanthropic projects  received  limited  attention,  and  not 
until  many  years  later  did  the  League  concern  itself  with 
those  kinds  of  matters. 

The  League  also  included  more  northern  women  who 
were  relatively  new  to  Florida,  and  more  from  minority 
groups.   From  its  inception  many  Jewish  women  were  members 
of  the  League.   Some  of  the  Old  Federation  members --May , 
Ivy  Stranahan,  May  Jewett,  and  Lucy  Blackman — joined  the 
League  but  not  as  many  as  had  been  hoped.   Some  saw  the 
League  as  a  competitor  of  the  Federation  and  opposed  its 
aggressive  stance.   Just  as  their  organization  had  been 
disapprovingly  viewed  by  conservatives  in  earlier  years, 

so  they  now  viewed  the  new  League  as  being  radical.   The 
League  lacked  the  air  of  gentility  and  tradition  that  had 
made  the  Federation  so  popular  with  southern  women.   May, 
however,  did  not  care  that  the  League  did  not  meet  certain 
social  or  philanthropic  standards,  she  saw  it  as  a  viable 
organization  with  a  useful  future,  and  she  became  a  charter 
member.   Indeed  her  political  experience  was  quickly  recog- 
nized by  the  officers  of  the  organization,  and  from  its 
inception  until  1926  she  served  as  its  chairman  of  legis- 
lation.  She  also  conducted  the  League's  citizenship  school 
which  it  held  during  its  annual  convention. 

As  chairman  of  the  League's  legislation  committee, 
May  organized  the  Florida  Legislative  Council.   It  was  a 
creature  of  her  own  imagination,  an  idea  she  believed  , 
whose  time  had  come.   With  the  proliferation  of  organiza- 
tions, old  and  new,  all  striving  to  satisfy  their  own 
legislative  aims,  May  saw  that  much  duplication  of  effort 
could  be  avoided  if  these  groups  could  work  together.   She 
wrote,  "The  plan  is  for  each  organization  to  submit  its 
legislative  program  to  the  council  which  will  decide  on 
the  measures  to  be  presented  and  who  and  how  many  bills 
to  be  pushed  during  one  session.  .  .  .   The  elimination  of 
divided  interests  and  wasted  effort,  the  concentration  of 

the  entire  force  of  the  woman  power  of  the  state  upon  any 

H  3  2 
measures  will  practically  insure  its  enactment  as  a  law. 

Thus  the  Legislative  Council,  with  her  as  president  from 


1921  to  1934,  became  a  clearing  house  for  more  than  ten 
state  organizations.  At  its  peak  the  Council  spoke  for 
more  than  25,000  Floridians. 

Represented  by  the  Council  were  such  disparate 
groups  as  the  Florida  Federation  of  Women's  Clubs,  Florida 
League  of  Women  Voters,  Federation  of  Business  and  Profes- 
sional Women's  Clubs,  Florida  Mother's  Clubs  (PTAs) , 
Florida  Education  Association,  Florida  Forestry  Associa- 
tion, state  Women's  Christian  Temperance  Union,  and  the 
Florida  Audubon  Society.   Eventually,  the  Council  was  to 
break  apart  because  of  the  strains  of  the  Depression  era 
and  because  of  the  desire  of  many  of  these  organizations 
to  control  their  own  legislative  calendars.   But,  for  more 
than  a  decade  the  Council,  with  May  at  its  helm,  lobbied 
in  Tallahassee  for  a   common  legislative  program.   This 
program  always  tried  to  include  something  for  everyone. 
The  1925  program  called  for  stricter  controls  over  the 
state  board  of  education,  an  act  requiring  the  reading  of 
the  Bible  in  public  schools,  women  as  jurors,  repression 
of  prostitution,  establishment  of  an  industrial  school  for 
delinquent  Negro  girls,  licensing  of  carnivals  and  travel- 
ing shows,  a  board  of  forestry,  a  state  game  and  fresh 
water  fish  commission,  and  for  local  option  stock  laws. 
The  1927  legislative  shopping  list  included  twenty-three 


In  addition  to  these  issues,  the  League  of  Women 
Voters  and  the  Legislative  Council  worked  to  promote  state 
participation  in  the  national  Sheppard-Towner  maternity- 
infancy  program.   They  also  urged  a  survey  of  conditions 
of  Florida  working  women,  the  removal  of  common  law  dis- 
abilities on  married  women,  and  the  elimination  of  the 
state's  poll  tax.   The  Legislative  Council  served  the  state 
well,  and  May  Jennings  became  a  more  than  ever  familiar 
figure  in  the  halls  of  government  in  Tallahassee. 

After  women  received  the  vote  May  continued  to 
promote  women's   rights.   While  she  was  not  a  member  of 
the  National  Woman's  Party,  she  nevertheless  favored  that 
organization's  Lucretia  Mott  bill  (equal  rights  amendment) 
which  was  rejected  by  the  increasingly  conservative  Florida 
Federation  of  Women's  Clubs.   May  continued  to  urge  Florida 
women  to  become  involved  in  local  and  state  political 
matters.   In  April  1922,  she  wrote  an  article,  "Women's 
Work  in  Florida,"  for  Florida  Magazine,  in  which  she  out- 
lined the  achievements  of  fourteen  of  the  state's  women's 
organizations.    She  described  the  new  Legislative  Council 
and  the  hopes  for  the  future;  she  urged  all  Florida  women 
to  join  in  the  political  process. 

In  1925  she  was  appointed  chairman  of  the  women's 

editorial  advisory  committee  of  Tropical  America  magazine. 

The  magazine  lasted  only  two  years,  but  during  that  period 

she  managed  to  have  printed  articles  pertaining  to  Royal 


Palm  Park,  home  demonstration  work,  conservation  of  the 
state's  natural  resources,  and  Florida's  new  park  system. 
She  wrote  the  editor,  "What  I  bring  to  the  magazine  in 
prestige,   position,  standing  in  the  state,  is  a  matter 
of  long  years  attainment,  and  I  am  not  unmindful  of  the 
fact  that,  being  as  conversant  with  state  affairs  as  I 
am  .  .  .  has  its  great  value.   At  least  it  helps  me  to  the 
accomplishment  of  things  that  otherwise  would  be  impos- 
sible. .  .  .   The  articles,  I  dare  say,  have  not  possibly, 
as  much  literary  merit  as  many  others  could  bring,  but  I  do 
feel  that  my  information  as  to  state  affairs  is  possibly  as 
far  reaching  as  that  of  anyone  else." 

May  continued  to  work  for  prohibition.   The  1917 
legislature  passed  a  statewide  prohibition  bill  which  was 
ratified  by  the  voters  the  following  year.   The  eighteenth 
amendment  was  enacted  in  1919,  but,  it  soon  became  apparent 
that  prohibition  was  going  to  have  a  precarious  future. 
Florida,  near  the  "wet"  Bahamas,  quickly  became  one  of  the 
major  smuggling  routes  for  rumrunners  and  others  who  sought 
to  import  illicit  liquor.   Citizens  in  Florida's  coastal 
cities  witnessed  a  series  of  battles  between  smugglers  and 
state  and  federal  enforcement  officials.   Late  in  1919  the 
National  Anti-Saloon  League  organized  groups  in  each  state 
to  counteract  the  growing  breakdown  in  respect  for  lav;  and 
order.   The  Florida  Educational  and  Temperance  Campaign  was 
established,  the  objectives  of  which  were  to  educate  the 


public  about  prohibition,  support  police  officials,  and 
raise  money  to  oppose  the  liquor  interests,  who  were  work- 
ing to  get  the  new  amendment  repealed. 

The  organization  was  supported  by  many  women  who 

were  also  members  of  the  Federation  and  the  Florida  Equal 

Suffrage  Association.    May  Jennings  was  selected  chairman 

of  the  woman's  division,  and  was  expected  to  call  upon  her 
vast  talents  and  her  network  of  friendships  to  find  county 
chairwomen  as  she  had  done  so  often  before  for  other  or- 
ganizations.  However,  it  was  not  taken  into  account  that 
the  mood  in  the  state  and  nation  had  changed.   The  war, 
the  bond  campaigns,  and  the  struggles  over  suffrage  and 
prohibition  had  left  the  American  public  exhausted  and 
somewhat  cynical.   Americans  were  no  longer  interested  in 
great  moral  causes.   For  two  decades  reformism  had  been  the 
catch-word  of  society,  now  Americans  were  interested  in 
other  things.   A  conservative,  pro-business  mood  permeated 
the  country.   Increased  mobility,  and  greater  economic 
freedom  had  created  a  public  which  no  longer  supported 
progressivism.   Many  Americans  resented  prohibition,  which 
they  viewed  as  a  prudish  law  which  sought  to  regulate  their 
personal  behavior. 

May  found  it  difficult  to  secure  the  people  needed 
for  the  temperance  education  work.   Previously  cooperative 
clubwomen  were  not  willing  to  help.   One  of  May's  steno- 
graphers wrote  during  the  search  for  workers,  "It  seems  to 


me  like  this  Education  Temperance  work  is  about  the  worst 
we  have  ever  tackled.   I  never  saw  the  way  the  women  are 

afraid  to  accept  chairmanships ....   We  will  never  get  the 

3  8 
state  organized  at  the  rate  we  are  going."    In  addition, 

officials  at  the  organization's  state  and  regional  head- 
quarters bickered  among  themselves  over  jurisdiction  and 
expense  monies.   The  decision  to  eliminate  the  women's 
division  proved  to  be  one  of  May  Jennings'  few  failures. 
She  would  return  later  to  prohibition  and  law  enforcement 
matters  however. 

For  nearly  a  year  Governor  Jennings  had  complained 
of  chest  pains  and  fatigue.   As  the  weeks  wore  on  his  con- 
dition continued  to  deteriorate.   During  the  autumn  of 
1919  he  had  an  acute  attack  that  at  the  time  was  diagnosed 
as  severe  indigestion,  but  apparently  he  had  suffered  a 
heart  attack.   With  her  husband  gravely  ill  and  bedridden, 
May  was  forced  to  hire  around-the-clock  nurses  to  care  for 
him.   By  Christmas  the  prognosis  was  serious,  and  May, 
accompanied  by  friends,  Dr.  and  Mrs.  M.  0.  Terry,  the  former 
surgeon  general  of  the  state  of  New  York,  took  the  Governor 
to  the  Breakers  Hotel  in  Palm  Beach  where  it  was  thought 
that  the  warm  weather  would  facilitate  his  recovery.   He 
did  improve,  and  in  February  1920,  was  transferred  from 
Palm  Beach  to  the  Ponce  de  Leon  Hotel  in  St.  Augustine. 
February  27,  it  was  decided  that  he  was  well  enough  to  be 
taken  back  to  the  Jennings  home  in  Jacksonville.   As  he  was 


being  prepared  for  the  trip,  he  suffered  another  massive 
attack  and  died  within  minutes.   He  was  fifty-six. 

Governor  Jennings'  funeral  was  held  in  the  Main 
Street  Baptist  Church  in  Springfield  with  Governor  Catts, 
former  Governor  Gilchrist,  and  scores  of  other  state  of- 
ficials in  attendance.   All  offices  in  Tallahassee  were 
closed,  and  flags  across  the  state  were  flown  at  half- 
mast.   Jennings  was  buried  in  Evergreen  Cemetery,  not  far 


from  his  and  May's  home. 

May  had  never  felt  such  grief.   Even  the  death  of 
her  mother  years  before  had  not  affected  her  so  deeply. 
She  had  spent  twenty-nine  years  working  along  side  of  her 
husband,  and  had  shared  his  many  dreams  and  aspirations 
for  Florida  and  its  people.   Now  she  would  have  to  go  on 
alone.   For  several  months  after  her  husband's  death  she 
remained  at  her  home  in  Jacksonville,  closing  out  his 
affairs  and  using  the  time  for  quiet  reflection.   She  was 
forty-seven  years  old,  energetic,  and  too  young  to  retire 
from  public  life.   She  knew  that  she  would  continue  her 
work;  there  were  too  many  things  yet  to  be  done.   She 
wrote,  "I  expect  to  dedicate  the  rest  of  my  life  to  the 
development  of  our  beloved  state  to  which  my  dear  husband 
devoted  so  much  of  his  time  and  thought,  and  I  hope  in  a 

measure  to  be  instrumental  in  bringing  to  realization  some 

of  the  great  things  he  started  and  dreamed  for  Florida. 


Soon  after  Governor  Jennings'  death,  May  as  presi- 
dent of  the  Springfield  Improvement  Association,  was  asked 
to  lead  a  fight  which  concerned  something  important  to  her. 
It  seems  that  in  1919  the  city  commission  had  quietly 
passed  an  ordinance  which  called  for  the  paving  of  Main 
Street  and  the  destruction  of  its  palm-lined  esplanade. 
When  local  citizens  became  aware  of  this  action  the  battle 
began.   Those  favoring  the  paving  included  the  commission 
and  businessmen  (realtors  and  local  car  dealers)  who  or- 
ganized themselves  as  the  Main  Street  Improvement  Associa- 
tion.  May  and  other  area  residents,  including  Ion  L. 
Farris,  led  the  fight  to  retain  the  parkway.   They  managed 
to  get  the  city  council  to  oppose  the  commission,  but  this 
stand  proved  more  symbolic  than  practical  for  real  power 
lay  with  the  commissioners.   Mayor  John  W.  Martin  opposed 
the  paving  plan  but,  he  too,  was  unable  to  do  anything  to 
save  the  esplanade. 

May,  Farris,  and  other  longtime  residents  did  every- 
thing they  could  to  get  the  ordinance  rescinded  or  delayed, 
but  to  no  avail.   The  Springfield  Improvement  Association 
even  held  a  non-binding  referendum  on  the  issue.   During 
the  most  critical  period  of  the  struggle  May  urged  that 
the  city  if  need  be  remove  the  sidewalks  but  leave  the 
scenic  esplanade  intact.   She  argued  that  Main  Street  was 
still  a  residential  street  and  that,  "back  of  all  the  agi- 
tation was  a   real  estate  scheme  perpetrated  by  those  who 


had  moved  to  palatial  homes  in  Riverside. .. the  people  of 
Springfield  not  being  willing  to  have  Main  Street's  beauty 
destroyed  in  the  interest  of  a  few  gentlemen  who  want  to 
make  money  in  real  estate." 

Unfortunately,  despite  a  battle  which  was  carried 
into  the  courts,  Springfield  lost;  the  picturesque,  palm- 
lined  esplanade  was  dug  up  as  were  many  of  the  roadway's 
large  oak  trees.   Main  Street  became  one  of  the  city's 
busiest  commercial  thoroughfares,  and  next  to  the  Jennings 
house  there  was  soon  a  grocery  store  and  across  the  street 
a  saloon.   The  loss  of  the  esplanade  in  front  of  her  home 
proved  to  be  one  of  May  Jennings'  sadest  and  bitterest 
defeats.   Its  loss  spurred  her  to  fight  that  much  harder, 
however,  for  the  preservation  of  other  beauty  spots  in  and 
around  the  city  and  state. 

May's  work  on  behalf  of  the  national  organization, 
the  General  Federation  of  Women's  Clubs,  continued,  and 
in  1920  she  was  elected  vice-president.   Her  campaign  bro- 
chure for  the  position  stated  that  she  was  a  woman  "born  to 
an  inheritance  of  big  thinking  and  right  acting  who  had 
fearlessly  chosen  what  she  believed  right."  It  also  stated 
that  she  was  "a  pioneer  in  every  progressive  movement  in 
[Florida]."    it  was  a  true  statement.   Since  1918  she  had 
served  as  Florida  Director  to  the  General;  now  she  was  to 
assume  a  higher  and  more  powerful  office.   After  her  elec- 
tion as  vice-president  she  was  placed  in  charge  of  the 


General's  national  home  economics  demonstration  extension 
work  which  operated  in  cooperation  with  the  United  States 
Department  of  Agriculture.   She  was  a  familiar  figure  to 
officials  of  that  agency  because  of  her  work  with  the 
Smith-Lever  and  corn  club  programs  years  before.   She  was 
a  good  choice  to  coordinate  the  vast  program,  and  for  two 
years  she  devoted  time  and  energy  to  the  project.   By  late 
1922  she  could  report  that  thirty-nine  states  and  2,500 
counties  in  the  nation  had  established  rural  extension 
programs . 

During  her  four  years  as  vice-president  she  served 
the  General  in  many  ways,  including  membership  on  the 
committee  which  located,  purchased,  and  raised  over 
$150,000  to  renovate  a  headquarters  building  in  Washington, 
D.  C.   During  those  years  she  attended  many  important 
meetings  in  the  Capital.   On  two  occasions  she  and  her 
colleagues  were  entertained  at  the  White  House.   She  also 
served  as  chairman  of  the  General's  medical  loan  scholar- 
ship fund,  raising  money  to  support  young  women  who  were 
interested  in  becoming  doctors.   In  addition  she  served  on 
a  committee  which  urged  Congress  to  create  a  federal  de- 
partment of  education,  with  a  woman  as  its  head  who  would 
hold  cabinet  rank. 

In  1923  May  became  vice-chairman  of  the  General's 
Woman's  National  Committee  for  Lav/  Enforcement,  and  was 
placed  in  charge  of  the  nine  southeastern  states.   This 


appointment  allowed  May  to  continue  her  support  for  national 
prohibition.   The  position  was  the  result  of  her  earlier 
work  for  the  defunct  Florida  Educational  and  Temperance 
Campaign  and  of  her  presidency  of  a  new  organization,  the 
Duval  County  Law  Enforcement  Committee,  which  was  formed 
in  late  1920. 43 

Because  of  all  of  her  many  services  to  the  General 

her  name  was  put  in  nomination  for  president  at  its  1924 

biennial  convention.    She  did  not  attain  the  post  but  was 

made  an  honorary  life-time  vice-president  of  the  organiza- 
tion.  During  her  years  working  for  the  General  she  managed 
to  travel  extensively  throughout  the  country  and  spent 
much  time  in  Washington.   Her  energy  during  these  years 
was  remarkable  for  she  continued  to  maintain  her  regular 
schedule  of  city,   county,  and  state  activities. 

Some  of  these  responsibilities  included  helping  to 
organize  the  Springfield  Garden  Club  and  a  movement  to 
clean  up  Springfield,  beautify  Hogan ' s  Creek,  and  to  land- 
scape the  Long  Branch  Creek  near  Evergreen  Cemetery.   In 
March  1924,  May  became  a  charter  member  of  the  Jacksonville 
chapter  of  the  National  Aeronautics  Association  which 

sought  to  further  the  growth  of  aviation  in  northeast 

Florida.    The  group  was  instrumental  in  helping  Florida 

Airways  to  inaugurate  mail  flights  in  1926.   In  1927  May 

attended  a  banquet  honoring  Charles  Lindbergh.   Despite 


her  interest  in  aviation  May  Jennings  never  flew  in  an 

In  1925  May  worked  to  secure  passage  of  the  bill 
which  created  the  Florida  State  Library  at  Tallahassee. 
As  a  past  member  of  the  War  Library  Council  and  a  former 
president  of  the  Federation  she  was  familiar  with  the 
library  needs  of  the  state.   When  the  new  library  was  es- 
tablished the  Federation,  at  her  urging,  donated  its 
ancient   but  large  traveling  library  which  had  criss- 
crossed the  state  for  so  many  years.   These  books  formed 
the  nucleus  of  the  state's  collection.   May  also  helped 
to  secure  for  the  new  state  library  the  private  collection 
of  books  which  belonged  to  William  Jennings  Bryan. 

Finally,  during  the  early  1920s,  May  served  as 
chairman  of  the  endowment  fund  for  the  new  tubercular  and 
crippled  children's  hospital  which  was  built  in  Jackson- 
ville at  Panama  Park  on  Trout  Creek.   She  also  remained 
active  on  the  board  of  Daniel  Orphanage  and  she  helped  her 
old  friend  Marcus  Fagg  raise  money  for  the  Children's  Home 
Society.   May's  was  truly  a  dedicated  life,  and  yet  she 
found  much  that  remained  to  be  done. 


Notes  to  Chapter  VIII 

Ernest  Ludlow  Bogart,  War  Costs  and  Their  Finan- 
cing (New  York,  1921)  ,  passim.   The  European  war  began 
November ,  1914.   The  United  States  entered  the  conflict 
April,  1917.   An  armistice  was  signed  by  all  parties 
November,  1918.   The  five  Liberty  Loan  drives  occurred 
May-June,  1917;  October,  1917;  April-May,  1918;  September- 
October,  1918;  May,  1919. 


Steve  Jantzen,  Hooray  for  Peace:  Hurrah  for  War. 

The  United  States  During  World  War  I  (New  York,  1971)  , 


T.  Frederick  Davis,  A  History  of  Jacksonville, 
Florida,  and  Vicinity,  1513-1924  (St.  Augustine,  19  25)  , 
p.  270. 

May  Jennings  to  Kate  Jackson,  May  25,  1918.   MMJ 
Papers,  Box  13. 

5Pamphlet,  "Prostitution  in  its  Relation  to  the  Army 
on  the  Mexican  Border,"  July,  1917.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  10. 

Edith  Gray,  The  History  of  the  Jacksonville  Chapter 
of  the  American  Red  Cross.   World  War  I  Period:  March  20, 
1914  (Jacksonville,  n.d.),  p.  30. 

May  Jennings  to  Mrs.  George  Bass.   February  1, 
1918.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  12. 


Pamphlet,  "National  Woman's  Liberty  Loan  Committee 
Recommendations  to  County  Chairmen."   MMJ  Papers,  Box  12. 

'May  Jennings  to  Fannie  D.  Williams,  February  11, 
1918.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  12. 

May  Jennings  to  Mrs.  D.E.  Austin,  February  1,  1918. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  12. 

May  Jennings  to  Mrs.  M.L.  Stanley,  July  20,  1917. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  10. 

12Pamphlet,  "A  Primer  of  the  National  Women's  Liberty 
Loan  Committee  for  the  Use  of  Women  Speakers."  MMJ  Papers, 
Box  12. 

"I  -3 

Sarah  E.  Sweat  to  May  Jennings,  September  21, 
1918.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  13. 



May  Jennings  to  Mary  McLeod  Bethune,  July  20, 

1917.  MMJ  Papers,  Box  10. 

John  P.  Ingle,  Jr.,  Aviation's  Earliest  Years  in 
Jacksonville,  1878-1935  (Jacksonville,  1977),  p.  14. 

The  Duval  County  Federation  of  Women's  Clubs  was 
disbanded  May  14,  1965.  See  Jacksonville  Florida.  Times- 
Union,  May  15,  1965. 


J.D.  Privett  to  May  Jennings,  April  5,  1918.   MMJ 

Papers,  Box  12. 


May  Jennings  to  Mary  Jewett,  April  15,  1918.   MMJ 

Papers,  Box  12. 


Mary  Jewett  to  May  Jennings,  April  11,  1918.   MMJ 

Papers,  Box  12. 


Postcard,  Anna  H.  Shaw  to  May  Jennings,  October 

1918.  MMJ  Papers,  Box  14. 


May  Jennings  to  Elizabeth  Skinner,  May  24,  1918. 

MMJ  Papers,  Box  13. 


Speech,  "What  It  Would  Mean  to  the  Cause  If  Each 

Suffragist  Did  Her  Part,"  November,  1918.   MMJ  Papers, 
Box  13. 


May  Jennings,  "State's  Rights,"  December,  1918. 

MMJ  Papers,  Box  13. 


Speech,  "The  Two  Roads  to  Victory,"  1919.   MMJ 

Papers,  Box  14. 


Blackman,  The  Women  of  Florida,  I,  p.  152. 

Pamphlet,  "The  National  League  of  Women  Voters: 
What  It  Is,  How  It  Works"  [1921].   MMJ  Papers,  Box  17. 


Davis,  A  History  of  Jacksonville,  p.  277. 


James  R.  McGovern,  "Helen  Hunt  West:  Florida's  Pioneer 

for  ERA,"  Florida  Historical  Quarterly,  LVII  (July,  1978),  pp.  39-53. 


Alma  Taylor,  Secretary  of  DCDW,  Inc.,  to  author, 

December  9,  1976.   DCDW,  Inc.,  was  established  in  1919 
and  received  an  incorporating  charter,  June  29,  19  35. 


In  1928  Edna  Fuller  (Mrs.  John  Fuller)  of  Orange 
County  became  Florida's  first  female  state  representative. 
Lena  Hawkins  (Mrs.  C.E.  Hawkins)  became  mayor  of  Brooksville 
in  1928.   Ruth  Bryan  Owen  became  Florida's  first  congress- 
woman  and  served  the  4th  District  (Miami)  from  1928  to  1932. 

May  Jennings  to  General  M.O.  Terry,  February  16, 

May  Jennings,  "Woman's  Work  In  Florida,"  Florida 
"The  Florida  Legislative  Council  Endorses  Measures, 

19  26.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  18 

3  2 

May  Jennings,   Wo 

Magazine,  April,  1922,  p.  14 


"The  Florida  Legisla 

The  Florida  Voter,  I,  April,  19  25,  p.  11. 

34 Jennings,  "Woman's  Work  In  Florida,1'  Florida  Maga- 
zine, April,  1922,  pp.  13-18. 

The  Hollywood  Magazine,  published  by  the  Florida 
Society  of  America,  first  appeared  in  November,  1924.   In 
1925  it  changed  its  name  to  Tropical  America  and  in  1926 
became  South  magazine.   May  Jennings  joined  the  magazine, 
December,  19  25. 

3oMay  Jennings  to  O.E.  Behymer,  February  6,  19  26. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  17. 

"For  an  explanation  of  the  symbiotic  relationship 
which  existed  between  prohibition  and  women's  rights  move- 
ments see  James  H.  Timberlake,  Prohibition  and  the  Progres- 
sive Movement,  1900-1920  (Cambridge,  1963). 

•J  o 

Mrs.  []  Woods  to  May  Jennings,  January  30,  1920. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  16. 

At  the  time  of  Jennings'  death  he  was  general 
counsel  for  the  Everglades  Sugar  and  Land  Company,  presi- 
dent of  the  Jennings  Artesian  Farm  Land  Company,  Dade 
Muck  Land  Company,  Furst-Clark  Construction  Company,  Ever- 
glades Contractors,  Bowers  Southern  Dredging  Company,  vice- 
president  and  general  counsel  for  the  Florida  State 
Drainage  Land  Company,  chairman  of  the  ways  and  means 
committee  of  the  Naval  Stores  Association  of  Florida, 
president  of  the  Leesburg  State  Bank,  Depositors  Trust 
Company,  director  of  Barnes  and  Jessup  Company,  and  a  pro- 
prietor of  extensive  real  estate  holdings  in  Jacksonville, 
Brooksville,  and  Miami. 

"Florida  Director's  Reports  to  the  General  Federa- 
tion of  Women's  Clubs,"  March,  19  20.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  16. 



"Arguments  in  defense  of  Main  Street  esplanade." 

MMJ  Papers,.  Box  16. 


Pamphlet,   Florida  Presents  a  Candidate  for  First 

Vice-President,"  June,  1920.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  16. 


The  Duval  County  Lav/  Enforcement  Committee  was 

established  December,  1920.   Scores  of  prominent  Jackson- 

villians  were  members  including  Reverend  VI. A.    Kobson, 

Mrs.  J.D.  Alderman,  Annie  Broward,  Charles  E.  Jones, 

Marcus  Fagg,  W.F.  Coachman,  and  Mrs.  J. A.  Corbet.   This 

organization  promoted  the  enforcement  of  prohibition  and 

other  types  of  moralistic  legislation.   The  organization 

disbanded  in  1923. 

d&  .  „  . 

Campaign  song,   May  Mann  Jennings.    See  Appendix 

V.     45 

Ingle,  Aviation,  p.  16. 


Through  the  years  May  never  lost  her  abiding  inter- 
est in  conservation.   After  she  relinquished  the  presi- 
dency of  the  Florida  Federation  of  Women's  Clubs  she  was 
appointed  chairman  of  the  organization's  conservation 
department,  serving  from  1917  until  1938.   Thus  for  nine- 
teen years  she  was  in  charge  of  the  club's  Royal  Palm  Park, 
waterways,  good  roads,  Seminole  Indians,  and  bird  protec- 
tion programs.   There  were  few  conservation  issues  in 
Florida  during  this  long  period  with  which  she  was  not  in 
some  way  involved.   She  organized  everything  from  a  drive 
to  get  a  riparian  rights  bill  passed  to  protect  the 
state's  rivers  and  estuaries,  to  campaigns  making  the 
Mockingbird  and  the  Sabel  palm  symbols  of  the  state.   She 
was  also  instrumental  in  having  February  14  declared  "Bird 
Day"  in  Florida. 

Royal  Palm  Park  continued  to  demand  much  of  her 
time  because  it  was  always  in  need  of  money,  particularly 
during  its  early  years.   The  site  became  a  popular  tourist 
spot,  and  thousands  of  visitors  visited  there  annually. 
It  also  became  a  place  where  scientists  could  carry  on 
their  biological  and  scientific  studies.   Improvements  at 
the  park  continued  to  be  made,  a  well  was  dug  and  a  water 



tower  built.   A  deer  pen  was  constructed  on  the  premises, 
and  several  key  deer  were  kept  to  entertain  the  sight- 
seers.  In  1918  T.  L.  Mead  of  Oviedo  willed  his  entire 
collection  of  several  thousand  hybrid  orchids  to  the  park. 
Private  monetary  gifts,  secured  with  the  aid  of  Charles 
Simpson  and  David  Fairchild,  helped  the  park  to  stay  sol- 
vent.  The  rental  of  some  of  the  endowment  acreage  to 
tomato  farmers  also  provided  income,  but,  by  late  1918 
funds  were  so  low  that  drastic  steps  had  to  be  taken.   The 
warden  was  dismissed  and  a  part-time  caretaker  hired.   The 
old  "mile-of-dimes "  cardboard  strips  were  reissued  to 
Federation  members,  and  clubs  were  urged  to  hold  bake 
sales  and  bazaars  to  raise  money  for  the  park.   Some 
Federation  members  irritated  by  the  perennial  financial 
crisis  at  the  park,  began  to  criticize  May  and  argue  that 
the  park  should  be  gotten  rid  of. 

The  1919  legislature  was  again  asked  for  an  ap- 
propriation.  Prior  to  the  session's  opening  May  wrote  an 
article  about  the  park  which  appeared  in  Mr.  Foster's 
Travel  Magazine,  a  national  monthly.   This  article,  which 
included  pictures  of  the  hammock  was  reprinted,  and  a  copy 
was  presented  to  each  legislator.   Despite  intense  personal 
lobbying  by  May  and  her  committee,  which  was  supplemented 
by  a  park  display  the  women  set  up  in  the  Capitol  corridors, 
the  legislature  failed  to  vote  funds.   May  was  very  dis- 
appointed; many  of  the  legislators  who  were  personal  friends 
had  assured  her  that  the  appropriation  bill  would  pass. 


Frustrated  and  angry,  she  wrote  Comptroller  Ernest  Amos 
and  demanded  the  $4.00  the  state  owed  the  park.   It  seems 
that  in  the  original  1915  bill  granting  the  park  lands  to 
the  women  the  lawmakers  had  provided  a  token  $1.00  a  year 
state  appropriation.   During  the  intervening  years  May  had 
never  asked  for  the  small  sum,  but  now  angry  at  the  legis- 
lators, who  she  felt  had  betrayed  her,  she  demanded  the 
money.   It  was  sent.   At  that  time  she  wrote  a  friend, 

"the  work  [conservation  in  Florida]  is  up  hill  and  one  gets 


dreadfully  discouraged  at  times. 

May  refused  to  accept  defeat  and  continued  to  work 
for  the  park  and  for  other  conservation  projects.   In  1920 
she  wrote  the  Rockfeller  Foundation  and  tried  to  secure 
funds  for  the  purchase  of  10,000  acres  adjacent  to  the  park 
which  she  wanted  to  make  a  bird  sanctuary.   She  was  fearful 
that  the  land  would  be  sold  by  the  state  to  an  industrial 
conglomerate  interested  in  land  speculation  just  as  it  had 
with  the  Alligator  Bay  rookery  land  the  year  before.   At 
that  time  May  had  tried  to  prevent  the  sale  but  she  had 
failed.   She  was  also  unsuccessful  in  her  endeavor  to 
secure  funds  to  acquire  the  additional  park  acreage,  but 
she  did  not  give  up  her  search  for  money. 

In  1920  and  1921  she  distributed  copies  of  the 
articles  "Natural  History  of  Paradise  Key  and  Nearby 
Everglades  of  Florida"  and  "Birds  of  Royal  Palm  Hammock," 
to  prominent  individuals  and  legislators  who  might  aid  the 



park.   In  192  0  some  money  was  raised  when  she  rented  the 

Arcade  movie  theatre  in  Jacksonville  and  showed   slides 
of  Royal  Palm.   She  continued  to  write  letters  of  protest 
to  state  and  federal  officials  about  the  lack  of  enforce- 
ment of  existing  bird  and  wildlife  laws.   Governor  Sidney 
J.  Catts  was  particularly  recalcitrant  and  opposed  any 
type  of  conservation  measures.   This  did  not  deter  May, 
and  she  continued  to  campaign  for  nev/er  and  more  stringent 
laws.   When  Governor  Cary  Hardee  took  office  in  1921  May 
sent  him  a  long  letter  detailing  what  conservation  mea- 
sures she  felt  the  state  needed.   She  also  urged  him  to 
endorse  a  state  natural  resources  department.   During  these 
years  she  and  her  cohorts  worked  closely  with  the  Florida 
Wildlife  League  and  the  Florida  Audubon  Society.   She 
counted  as  friends  many  nationally  known  naturalists  and 
conservation  officials. 

During  the  years  of  World  War  I,  May  had  become 
embroiled  in  one  conservation  controversy  which  made  head- 
lines for  months.   Because  of  the  emphasis  during  that 
period  on  the  preservation  of  food  some  official  in  Wash- 
ington suggested  that  sea  birds  be  prevented  from  eating 
fish.   Florida  shellfish  commissioner  J.  A.  Williams  then 
ruled  that  since  pelicans  were  thought  to  eat  perhaps  a 
million  dollars  of  fish  a  day  in  Florida  the  birds  should 
be  controlled  by  robbing  their  rookeries  of  eggs.   Older 
birds  were  to  be  killed  outright.   The  Florida  Audubon 


Society  severely  criticized  Williams  and  other  state  offi- 
cials who  favored  the  plan.   Naturalists  were  appalled  by 
the  idea  that  the  state's  pelicans  should  be  destroyed. 
Feelings  on  both  sides  of  the  issue  ran  high.   Stanley 
Hanson,  a  Fort  Myers  Indian  agent  and  federal  migratory 
bird  inspector,  wrote  May,  "all  this  talk  about  the  pelican 

being  responsible  for  the  disappearance  of  the  food  fish 

is  a  lot  of  rot .  "   May  and  her  conservation  committee  cir- 
culated petitions  opposing  the  bird  slaughter,  and  the 
National  Audubon  Society  began  to  exert  pressure  on  the 
United  States  Food  Administration,  which  was  supporting  the 
shellfish  commissioner. 

May  wrote  her  friend  E.  W.  Nelson,  chief  of  the 
Bureau  of  Biological  Survey,  in  Washington  for  help.   He 
and  employees  of  the  bureau  visited  Florida  to  study  the 
situation.   They  prepared  and  sent  to  May  an  official  re- 
port, "The  Truth  About  the  Pelicans,"  which  defended  the 
habits  of  the  beleagured  birds.   May  gave  this  paper  to 
William  F.  Blackman,  president  of  the  Florida  Audubon 

Society,  and  he  had  it  retitled,  reprinted,  and  distributed 

throughout  the  state.   At  the  time  May  wrote  the  president 

of  the  Federation,  "It  seems  we  are  in  for  a  fight  to  save 

our  birds."   And  so  they  were. 

Coastal  newspapers  such  as  the  St.  Petersburg 

Independent  condoned  the  destruction  of  the  birds.   May's 

views  on  behalf  of  the  birds,  however,  carried  a  great  deal 


of  v/eight  around  the  state,  for  not  only  was  she  chairman 
of  the  Federation's  conservation  committee,  but  she  was 
an  officer  of  the  Florida  Audubon  Society  and  a  member  of 
the  State  Food  Commission,  organizations  on  both  sides  of 
the  issue.   Her  views  were  so  well  publicized  and  she  her- 
self so  well  respected  by  the  general  public  that  at  a 
meeting  of  the  State  Food  Commission,  which  was  charged  with 
promoting  food  conservation,  she  was  able  to  get  a  resolu- 
tion passed  protesting  the  killing  of  Florida's  pelicans. 
Soon  the  plans  to  exterminate  the  birds  were  dropped. 
In  1921  May  wrote  her  friend,  E.  W.  Nelson,  in 
Washington,  to  get  the  new  caretaker  at  Royal  Palm  Park, 
Gordon  T.  Doe,  appointed  a  deputy  game  warden.   In  the 
letter  she  acknowledged  for  the  first  time  that  her  hard, 
and  at  times  discouraging  work  was  beginning  to  pay  divi- 
dends, even  if  it  was  still  too  soom  to  celebrate  a  total 
victory.   She  wrote,  "About  the  middle  of  last  month  I 
visited  the  Royal  Palm  Park  and  on  the  bridge  where  we  go 
over  the  lilly  pond  we  stopped  our  car  between  5  and  6  in 
the  evening  and  saw  to  the  north  on  a  little  island  be- 
longing to  our  property  between  two  and  three  thousand 
water  fowl  go  to  roost.   I  am  beginning  to  feel  that  our 
bird  conservation  work  is  well  started.   But  you  can 
readily  realize  how  very  carefully  the  warden  has  to  guard 

this  spot.   He  virutally  has  to  put  the  birds  to  bed  every 

night  to  keep  the  hunters  from  shooting  into  them." 


1921  proved  to  be  pivotal  in  the  history  of  the  park. 
For  many  years  just  May  and  a  few  staunch  supporters  had 
continued  to  work  for  the  park;  their  efforts  had  aided  in 
helping  the  park  stay  open  to  the  public.   The  1921  legis- 
lature was  again  presented  an  appropriation  bill  by  May, 
who  feared  that  the  lawmakers  would  once  again  reject  her 
appeal.   Whether  it  was  because  of  her  reputation,  or 
Governor  Jennings'  death  the  year  before,  or  the  fact  that 
the  park  had  become  popular,  or  becuase  of  sheer  exaspera- 
tion, the  legislature  approved  a  $2,500  annual  appropria- 
tion.  May's  dream  had  become  a  reality;  the  park's  future 
was  assured.   The  Federation  retained  ownership  and  mana- 
gerial responsibilities  of  the  site,  but  the  state  took 
over  the  financial  burden.   An  overjoyed  May  Jennings 
wrote  letters  of  thanks  to  each  legislator  who  had  voted 
for  the  appropriation  bill. 

Through  the  years  she  continued  to  oversee  the  opera- 
tion of  the  park.   Its  popularity  increased  and  during  the 
Florida  real  estate  boom  in  the  1920s  thousands  of  tourists 
treked  over  its  vine-covered,  palm  shadowed  pathways.   The 
hurricane  of  1926  and  several  grass  fires  the  next  year 
caused  severe  damage  and  forced  the  legislature  to  appro- 
priate $10,000  for  restoration.   Before  the  decade  was  out 
additional  acreage  was  acquired,  increasing  the  park's  size 
to  nearly  12,000  acres.   In  1929,  acting  on  behalf  of  the 
Federation,  May  offered  Royal  Palm  Park  to  the  proposed 


National  Everglades  Park  if  it  should  be  created.   This 
was  a  fortuitous  gesture,  and  in  itself  helped  to  promote 
the  national  park. 

May  continued  to  work  with  Ivy  Stranahan  on  behalf 
of  the  Seminole  Indians.   After  the  1917  legislature  set 
aside  98,000  acres  of  state  land  in  Monroe  County  for  an 
Indian  reservation  the  women  began  to  agitate  for  this  land 
to  be  transferred  to  the  federal  government,  for  it  was 
learned  that  Washington  would  make  no  improvements  on  the 
reservation  as  long  as  it  did  not  hold  title  to  it .   A 
memorial  to  this  effect  was  presented  to  the  1919  legisla- 
ture.  In  it  May  wrote,  "if  this  land  was  under  Government 
control  steps  would  be  taken  to  drain  portions  of  the 
tract  that  could  then  be  made  available  to  the  Indians. 
The  only  Government  Indian  Reservation  contains  about  23,000 
acres  in  Big  Cypress  Swamp,  Lee  County,  with  only  5%  of  the 

land  available.  ...   We  appeal  to  you  to  give  the  Indians 

a  permanent  home  and  settle  this  question  for  all  time." 

During  maneuvers  to  secure  the  land  transfer  May  again 
clashed  with  the  acerbic  Minnie  Moore  Willson  over  the  phi- 
losophical question  of  whether  hunting  or  farming  lands 
were  more  beneficial  to  the  Indians.   May  favored  the  ac- 
quisition of  dry,  arable  land  for  the  Indians.   She  wrote 

of  Mrs.  Willson,  "I  think  she  is  more  anxious  for  acres 

than  for  quality. 


It  was  becoming  obvious  that  the  Indians  were  find- 
ing it  increasingly  difficult  to  sustain  themselves  in  the 
white  man's  world.   "Because  of  white  hunters  and  the 
development  of  canals,  drainage  operations,  and  highways, 
the  supply  of  wildlife  had  been  reduced  to  a  point  where 
deer,  bear,  and  turkey  were  rarely  found.   Some  food  and 
virtually  all  other  articles  had  to  be  purchased  at  the 
trading  posts. Cash  income  came  from  the  sale  of  furs,  hides, 
dolls,  baskets,  and  from  occasional  farm  labor,  and  part- 
time  work  as  hunting  guides."    The  Indians ' s  traditional 
way  of  life  was  being  destroyed. 

The  1919  legislature  was  unresponsive  to  the  request 
to  cede  the  state  lands  to  the  federal  government,  but  the 
women  refused  to  give  up  the  cause.   For  nearly  twenty 
more  years  May,  Ivy  Stranahan,  and  other  friends  of  the 
Seminoles  lobbied   to  improve  their  conditions  of  life.   In 
1931  the  Dania  (Hollywood)  Federal  Reservation  was  estab- 
lished, and  in  1936  additional  lands  in  Broward  County  were 
secured  for  the  Indians.   During  these  years  the  women 
worked  to  secure  not  only  lands,  but  medical  care,  jobs,  and 
educational  benefits  for  the  Indians. 

Other  conservation  issues  which  occupied  May  Jennings 
during  these  years  concerned  reforestation,  forest  fire 
control,  cattle  tick  eradication,  and  fencing.   Since  its 
early  years  the  Federation  had  been  interested  in  forestry 
matters.   This  was  because  of  the  clubwomen's  concern  with 


conservation  in  general  and  because  some  prominent  women, 
especially  in  south  Florida,  were  married  to  naturalists 
who  were  interested  in  forestry  matters.   Governor  Jennings, 
in  1901,  had  called  for  a  state  forest  conservation  and 
reforestation  program.   After  the  creation  of  Royal  Palm 
Park  May's  and  the  Federation's  interest  in  these  issues 
escalated.   Bills  were  submitted  to  the  legislature  calling 
for  the  creation  of  a  state  forestry  board,  and  the  posi- 
tion of  state  forester.   When  the  park  was  repeatedly 
threatened  by  forest  fires,  the  conservation  committee 
began  an  active  program  to  get  a  forest  fire  control  bill 
through  the  legislature.   Eventually  a  bill  was  passed, 
but  it  provided  only  for  weak  and  ineffective  county  option 
control.   May  led  the  effort  to  get  a  tougher  law  enacted. 

Because  of  the  Jennings'  large  timber  holdings, 
Bryan  Jennings  was  also  interested  in  forestry  matters 
and  worked  with  his  mother.   In  January  1919,  May  addressed 
the  Conference  of  Southern  Foresters  in  Jacksonville  on 
the  need  for  the  creation  of  a  state  department  of  natural 
resources  which  would  oversee  a  forestry  board  and  coordi- 
nate other  conservation  programs.   She  also  outlined  the 
Federation  struggles  to  get  conservation  laws  enacted.   As 
a  result  of  this  appearance  she  was  appointed  to  a  committee 
charged  with  organizing  a  state  forestry  organization,  but 
it  was  decided  that  there  was  not  enough  time  prior  to  the 
convening  of  the  1919  legislature  to  organize  formally. 


However,  those  who  were  interested  in  forestry  matters 
decided  to  lobby  for  the  establishment  of  a  state  forestry 
board  and  for  stronger  fire  control  measures.   Unfortunately, 
the  1919  legislature,  which  passed  some  progressive  measures 
failed  to  respond  to  the  forestry  group's  requests.   Shortly 
after  the  end  of  the  session  the  Florida  Forestry  Associa- 
tion was  formally  established.   B.  F.  Williamson  of  Gaines- 
ville was  chosen  president,  Bryan  Jennings  vice  president, 
and  May  was  appointed  special  consultant  on  legislation. 
Williamson  later  remembered  that  "Mrs.  W.  S.  Jennings  was 
a  public  spirited  woman  and  realized  the  loss  occurring 
the  way  forests  were  being  handled.   She  at  that  time. . . 
conceived  the  idea  of  getting  together  a  group  to  develop 

it  into  the  forest  service  and  she  really  sparked  the  flame 


that  developed  into  the  F.F.A." 

The  new  association  dedicated  itself  to  preserving 
the  forests  of  Florida,  the  wildlife,  and  to  the  elimina- 
tion of  wildfires.  The  by-laws  stated  that  the  organiza- 
tion intended  "to  represent  the  interest  of  all  people,  the 

sportsmen,  and  the  wood-using,  naval  stores,  agricultural 

and  horticultural  industries."    The  by-laws  purposely  in- 
cluded these  sugments  of  the  population  because  without 
their  support  the  Association  would  have  had  a  difficult, 
if  not  impossible,  task  achieving  its  goals.   Chief  among 
the  organization's  opponents  was  the  cattle  industry. 


Cowmen  had  long  believed  that  the  periodic  burning 
of  range  grass  and  undergrowth  was  useful  in  retarding 
scrub  vegetation  and  rejuvenating  the  soil,  and  producing 
tenderer,  lusher  grasses.   According  to  B.  F.  Williamson, 
"The  cattle  man  knew  when  the  cattle  were  hungry  that  he 
could  drop  a  match  and  have  them  lucious  green  food  in  a 
couple  of  weeks."    Another  contemporary  stated  that, 
"The  first  people  who  started  fire  protection  and  tree 
planting  had  an  awful  uphill  fight  because  in  Florida  wide- 
spread burning  of  the  woods  was  an  accepted  thing.   It 
was  felt  that  the  woods  ought  to  be  burned  in  order  to 
kill  the  boll  weevil,  get  rid  of  snakes,  take  care  of 
cattle  ticks  and  almost  anything  else.   The  woods  were 
burned  in  order  to  clear  the  land  and  to  keep  the  pasture 

growth  from  getting  too  high.   It  was  an  easy  thing  to  do, 

and  there  was  no  regard  for  the  other  fellow's  property. 

Range  burning  to  produce  new  vegetation  was  opposed 

by  most  foresters  in  the  1920s.   Later  it  was  more  readily 

accepted.   For  years  the  cowmen  and  the  foresters  clashed 

in  the  halls  of  government  and  argued  the  question  of 

whether  "to  burn  or  not  to  burn."    May,  who  was  appalled 

by  the  indiscriminate  burning  practices  of  the  cattlemen, 

argued  this  question  frequently  before  various  groups 

throughout  Florida.   During  her  talks  she  always  advocated 

the  proposed  state  department  of  natural  resources  and  a 

forestry  board.   She  urged  cooperation  with  the  federal 


government  in  establishing  national  forest  reserves  in 
Florida  and  in  wildfire  prevention  programs.   State  coopera- 
tion came  slowly,  but  eventually  several  large  preserves 
were  established,  and  Florida  began  participating  in  some 
fire  prevention  programs.   These  efforts  as  May  regarded 
them,  were  meager. 

In  1921  May  and  her  cohorts  pushed  a  bill  through 
the  legislature  which  created  fire  districts  in  the  Ever- 
glades.  The  following  year  Bryan  Jennings  declared  for 
the  legislature  and  ran  on  a  platform  calling  for  the 
establishment  of  a  forestry  board  and  a  tick  eradication 
program.   Although  defeated  in  the  primary,  he  continued 
to  work  for  the  Forestry  Association.   In  1925  the  group 
secured  passage  of  a  bill  which  supplemented  the  1921  wild- 
fire measure,  but  both  were  county  option  laws  and  there- 
fore not  strong  enough  to  bring  the  problem  under  control. 
In  1925  the  Forestry  Association  tried  again,  but  without 
success,  to   secure  authority  to  establish  a  state  forestry 
board.   Conservationists  did  achieve  some  victories  that 
year,  however.   A  bill  protecting  dogwoods,  hollys,  and 
mountain  laurels  was  passed,  and  a  bill  creating  a  state 
park  system  under  the  auspices  of  the  trustees  of  the 
Internal  Improvement  Fund  was  enacted.   It  would  be  several 
years,  however,  before  any  parks,  other  than  the  privately- 
owned  Royal  Palm  Park,  would  be  created. 

In  October,  1925  May  published  an  article,  "Con- 
servation in  Florida,"  in  the  Christian  Science  Monitor. 


In  it  she  described  the  successes—game  and  fresh  water 
fish  department,  park  system,  protection  of  the  flowering 
trees--of  conservationists  in  the  state.   In  addition  that 
year  May  helped  Lillian  Taliaferro  Conway,  a  federal  for- 
estry expert  hired  by  the  Association,  to  arrange  a 
speaking  tour  among  Florida's  women's  organizations,  to 
publicize  the  need  for  forestry  laws. 

From  its  inception  the  Florida  Forestry  Association 
worked  to  establish  local  forest  fire  protective  associa- 
tions in  each  of  Florida's  counties.   These  associations 
were  non-governmental  groups  of  land  owners  who  banded 
together  to  protect  their  areas  from  wildfires  and  to  fight 
such  fires  should  they  arise.   The  Association  also  lob- 
bied in  favor  of  the  Clarke-McNary  Act,  enacted  by  Congress, 
in  1924,  which  set  up  a  system  of  national  and  state  co- 
operation in  fire  prevention,  reforestation,  stream  flow 
maintenance,  and  forestry  tax  laws.   The  Association  in 
1925  published  a  pamphlet  entitled  "Common  Forest  Trees  of 
Florida,"  and  the  following  year,  "Forest  Fires  in  Florida." 
Statistics  compiled  by  the  Association  showed  that  fires  in 
Florida  were  a  major  problem:   "In  1927,  15,646  fires  were 

recorded,  of  which  15,437  occurred  in  unprotected  areas.  . 

1 8 

.  .   The  total  number  of  acres  burned  rose  to  13,260,820." 

In  1927  the  Forestry  Association  returned  to  the 
legislature  with  a  comprehensive  bill  which  called  for 
establishment  of  a  state  forestry  board.   In  later  years, 


Clinton  H.  Coulter  recalled,  "that  several  of  them 
[Association  Members]  camped  over  at  the  legislature  and 
pressed  the  legislators  by  personal  contact,  and  got  the 
bill  introduced  .  .  .  That  early  group  beat  the  drums  and 

did  the  spade  work  and  lobbied   up  in  Tallahassee  to  get 

over  the  bill."    Mr.  Williamson  remembered  that,  "We 

realized  the  cattleman  was  not  interested  in  our  bill  and  we 
thought  it  dangerous  to  draw  one  law,  so  we  drew  two  laws 
to  cover  forestry  protection  and  another  to  cover  fire 
protection.   The  matter  was  presented  to  the  legislature. 
This  required  an  appropriation  so  a  committee  was  appointed 
to  the  House.   The  authorities  that  appointed  this  com- 
mittee were  not  favorable  to  forestry.   I  was  able  to  go 
to  Tallahassee  and  see  what  could  be  done  and  from  every 
important  point  to  study  forestry  and  see  the  main  man  on 
the  committee  on  forestry  in  the  Legislature.   This  man 
happened  to  be  an  old  lawyer  and  when  he  got  through  mis- 
representing the  situation  before  the  committee,  the  bill 
was  killed  in  the  committee.   Then  the  sparks  began  to  fly. 
Mrs.  W.  S.  Jennings  got  busy.   George  Pratt,  President  of 
the  American  Forestry  Association  had  been  down  here  and 
while  he  had  no  financial  interests  in  the  state,  he  did  in 
forestry.  ...   He  gave  us  a  truck  and  a  moving  picture  to 
go  all  over  the  state  and  show  people,  so  that  the  bill  that 
the  committee  had  turned  down  had  to  be  accepted  and  was 
voted  on  by  2/3  of  the  Representatives  of  the  Legislature  .  , 


.   .     20 
the  Department  of  Forestry  was  brought  into  being." 

At  the  time  of  the  passage  of  the  bill  May  wrote, 

"I  handled  the  Forestry  law  entirely  myself  except  for 

several  days  work  done  at  different  times  during  the 

session  by  my  son,  who  is  the  author  of  the  law.   We  are 

,   .,   „21 
very  proud  of  this  big  step  in  conservation  for  Florida. 

Because  of  her  leadership  and  lobbying  and  publicity  work 
during  the  fight,  May  Jennings  was  often  called  the  "Mother 
of  Florida  Forestry."   She  received  from  the  American 
Forestry  Association  a  bronze  medallion  in  recognition  of 
her  activities.   One  friend  wrote  to  her:   "Bully  for  you 
in  regard  to  the  forestry  laws.   This  is  only  one  of  many 
things  you  have  done.   I  wish  Florida  had  a  half  dozen  of 
you."22  May's  friend,  Governor  John  W.  Martin,  appointed 
Byran  Jennings  to  the  newly  created  board  of  forestry.   He 
served  for  ten  years  (1927-1937),  during  which  time  the 
board  established  a  reforestation  program,  worked  to  pre- 
vent forest  fires  and  enforce  wildfire  legislation,  orga- 
nized the  Florida  Forest  Service,  worked  with  civic  groups 
to  publicize  the  work  of  foresters,  and  eventually  helped 
establish  a  system  of  state  parks.   The  creation  of  the 
Florida  Board  of  Forestry  was  one  of  May's  most  signifi- 
cant accomplishments. 

In  addition  to  forestry  matters,  the  Federation  had 
always  evinced  an  interest  in  the  cattle  industry  and  its 
problems.   The  Federation's  first  legislative  resolution, 


in  1895,  had  concerned  itself  with  free-roaming  livestock. 
Around  19  00  the  national  and  state  governments  began  a 
public  program  to  control  the  Texas  cattle  fever  tick, 
which  had  invaded  southeastern  ranges.   Florida's  first 
tick  eradication  control  bill,  passed  in  1899,  gave  all 
authority  to  the  counties.   In  1913  the  State  Board  of 
Health  v/as  authorized  to  lead  the  eradication  program,  but 
once  again  real  power  was  left  in  the  hands  of  county 
commissions,  many  of  whom  refused  to  participate  in  the 
program.   In  1915  the  State  Livestock  Sanitary  Board 
assumed  the  responsibility  for  the  eradication  program, 
but  it  too  made  little  headway.   As  a  result  of  the  fail- 
ure to  eliminate  the  tick,  the  problem  threatened  to  be- 
come a  major  political  issue.   At  their  1916  Federation 
convention,  clubwomen,  aware  of  the  impending  crisis, 
voted  to  endorse  a  strong  cattle  tick  eradication  program. 
The  tick  affected  not  only  the  quality  of  Florida  beef, 
but  it  was  also  attacking  the  state's  dairy  herds  and 
affecting  the  amount  and  quality  of  the  milk  produced  by 
cows.   The  slogan  among  these  clubwomen  became  "Protect  Our 
Babies'  Milk." 

By  1917  the  tick  problem  had  become  so  severe  that 
most  of  the  state  was  under  quarantine  with  cattle  pro- 
hibited from  being  shipped  out.   it  was  estimated  that  the 
range  industry  was  losing  $10,000,000  anually.   Not  all 
cowmen  believed  that  the  tick  should  or  could  be  eliminated. 


The  Florida  Livestock  Association,  dominated  by  William  F. 
Blackman  and  Mrs.  Potter  Palmer,  of  Sarasota,  favored  a 
strong  eradication  program,  while  the  Florida  Cattlemen's 
Association,  which  was  controlled  by  F.  A.  Hendry,  opposed 
eradication.   In  1918  Blackman,  who  was  also  president  of 
the  Florida  Cattle  Tick  Eradication  Committee,  wrote  May 
requesting  her  help  in  the  battle.   The  November  1918 
election  was  approaching  and  those  in  favor  of  tick  control 
had  managed  to  get  a  local-option  dipping  measure  on  all  of 
the  counties'  ballots.   Blackman ' s  wife,  Lucy,  knew  that 
the  Federation  was  well  organized,  and  he  turned  to  her 
fellow  clubwomen  for  help  to  promote  the  tick  eradication 

Cattle  tick  eradication  was  viewed  by  cowmen  as  a 
major  economic  issue;  many  felt  dipping  would  drive  them 
out  of  business.   Jow  Ackerman,  in  his  history  of  the  in- 
dustry, says,  "time  involved  in  the  actual  dipping  forced 
part-time  cattlemen  and  farmers  with  sizable  herds  to 
become  fulltime  cattlemen  or  get  out  of  the  business  alto- 
gether.  One  could  no  longer  turn  his  head  loose  on  the 
open  range  and  forget  about  them  until  round-up  time.  .  .  . 
It  was  a  constant  cycle  of  hunting  cattle,  driving  them 

to  the  vats  and  dipping  them  twice  a  month.   And,  of  course, 


the  cattle  were  not  the  only  carriers  of  the  tick  .  " 

As  the  critical  1918  election  day  approached,  May 
hurried  to  organize  the  clubwomen  and  help  Blackman 's 


cause.   Two  other  issues  on  the  ballot  at  that  time,  a 
statewide  prohibition  amendment  and  a  ten  mill  amendment 
designed  to  promote  good  roads,  were  also  favored  by  the 
women.   On  election  day  clubwomen  across  the  state  took 
up  posts  outside  the  polling  places  to  urge  support  for 
the  three  measures.   Prohibition  and  the  millage  measures 
won  handily,  compulsory  cattle  dipping  was  adopted  by 
twenty-eight  of  Florida's  fifty-four  counties. 

As  a  result  of  the  election  progress  was  made 
against  the  tick,  but  it  was  apparent  that  without  a  state- 
wide compulsory  dipping  law  Florida  would  never  be  free, 
once  and  for  all,  of  the  vexatious  problem.   Proponents  of 
tick  eradication  continued  to  work  toward  that  end.   To 
many  citizens  it  appeared  that  a  successful  tick  program 
also  depended  upon  the  fencing  of  the  ranges,  for  movement 
of  infected,  as  well  as  dipped,  cattle  had  to  be  controlled. 
Fencing  was  anathema  to  cattlemen;  open  ranges  had  always 
been  regarded  as  a  sacred  right.   As  one  historian  writes, 
"Florida  was  the  last  cattle  state  still  to  have  large  range 
areas  unfenced.   Fences  had  been  around  a  long  time,  but 
traditionally  they  had  been  used  in  Florida  to  keep  cattle 
out  rather  than  to  keep  cattle  in .  .  .  .   Cattleman  J.  B. 
Starkey  remembered  fondly  of  riding  for  nearly  three  weeks 
in  the  spring  of  1914  without  seeing  a  fence.   'There  were 
no  roads  then  between  Alva  and  Sebring  and  the  area  we  rode 
over  was  still  for  pioneers.   Like  all  Florida  cowmen,  we 


rode  by  the  sun,  traveling  over  325  miles.   It  was  wild 
country  with  plenty  of  room  for  a  man  who  wanted  to  raise 
stock' .  "24 

When  the  1919  legislative  session  began  the  forces 
favoring  tick  eradication  were  prepared.   Once  again 
William  Blackman  solicited  May's  help.   He  wrote  an  open 
letter  to  each  woman ' s  club  in  the  state,  in  which  he  said, 
"I  am  writing  you  after  consultation  with  Mrs.  W.  S. 
Jennings,  chairman  of  the  conservation  committee  of  the 
Florida  Federation  of  Women's  Clubs,  asking  that  a  com- 
mittee be  appointed  immediately  in  every  club  in  the  state, 
whose  duty  it  shall  be  to  urge  this  matter  [statewide  com- 
pulsory dipping  of  cattle]  upon  the  attention  of  the  mem- 
bers of  the  Senate  and  House,  in  personal  interviews  if 

possible,  or  by  letter.   May  we  not  count  on  you  to  see 

that  this  is  done  without  delay? 

In  addition  to  Blackman 's  faction  and  the  clubwomen, 
other  groups  who  worked  for  tick  eradication  were  the 
Florida  Development  Board  and  an  organization  with  the 
confusing  name  of  the  Florida  No-Fence  League,  whose 
primary  aim  was  to  see  that  all  free-range  or  no-fence  laws 
were  rescinded  and  replaced  by  compulsory  fence  laws.   Sev- 
eral Federation  clubwomen  were  officers  in  this  League;  May 
was  listed  as  an  advisory  member.   She  also  at  this  time 
became  a  member  of  the  Florida  Development  Board  (forerunner 
of  the  Florida  Chamber  of  Commerce) ,  an  association  which 


she  maintained  for  the  next  forty  years.   However,  May  op- 
posed linking  tick  eradication  with  fencing  for  she  felt 
that  to  do  so  would  add  to  the  already  abundant  confusion 
in  the  public's  mind  and  thereby  jeopardize  the  passage  of 
a  compulsory  dipping  bill. 

Despite  continued  heavy  lobbying  by  the  eradication 
proponents,  the  1919  and  1921  legislatures  refused  to  pass 
a  compulsory  lav/.   This  merely  set  the  stage  for  an  all-out 
confrontation  between  the  cattlemen  and  their  opponents  at 
the  1923  session.   After  weeks  of  frantic  lobbying  and 
"horsetrading"  between  the  two  factions,  the  1923  legis- 
lature passed  Florida's  first  compulsory  statewide  dipping 
bill.   It  authorized  the  state  to  pay  one-half  of  each  cow- 
man's dipping  expenses,  and  placed  the  dipping  program  under 
a  reorganized  Livestock  Sanitary  Board.   The  matter  did  not 
rest  there,  however,  for  when  dipping  actually  began  in 
some  places  violent  skirmishes  broke  out  between  officials 
and  some  irate,  intractable  cattlemen.   Several  individuals 
were  killed,  and  numerous  dipping  vats  around  the  state 
were  destroyed.   During  the  early  years  of  the  dipping  pro- 
gram over  70,000  head  of  cattle  were  sold  to  avoid  the 
dipping  process.   Eventually,  dipping  became  commonplace, 
and  the  tick  was  finally  eliminated,  but  not  before  the 
state  had  expended  millions  of  dollars,  suffered  several 
more  quarantine  periods,  and  the  Seminole  Indians  had 
threatened  to  go  on  the  warpath  to  save  their  tick-carrying 


reservation  deer.   During  this  long  struggle,  May  and  the 
women  of  the  Federation  strongly  supported  the  authorities, 
although  there  was  some  wavering  during  the  Seminole  Indian 

The  no-fence  proponents  were  not  so  successful. 
Despite  their  success  at  getting  a  bill  to  prevent  loose 
livestock  on  the  1922  ballot,  they  were  unable  to  rescind 
a  single  lav/  allowing  open  ranges,  and  Florida  had  no 
statewide  compulsory  fence  law  until  1947.   Some  local 
muncipalities  did  not  get  around  to  adopting  fence  laws 
until  the  1960s,  and  this  despite  the  fact  that  the  lack 
of  fences  became  a  real  nuisance  and  safety  hazard  as  the 
state  expanded  its  road  system  and  more  and  more  cars  took 
to  its  highways.   Throughout  her  life  May  Jennings  favored 
the  passage  of  a  compulsory  fence  law. 

In  1922  May  became  associated  with  John  B.  Stetson, 
Jr. ,  and  the  newly  organized  Florida  State  Historical  So- 
ciety, which  had  been  established  October  8,  1921.    As  a 
member  of  the  Florida  Historical  Pageant  Association,  pro- 
ducers of  a  1922  open-air  Jacksonville  extravaganza,  which 
depicted  the  Ribault-Menendez  de  Avila  conflict  in  drama, 

song,  and  dance,  May  wrote  Stetson  for  some  pictures  which 

the  pageant  could  publish  in  its  program.    Stetson  com- 
plied with  the  request,  and  in  a  long  letter  to  May  out- 
lined his  plans  for  his  new  society  which  he  urged  her  to 
join.   She  liked  the  objectives  of  the  society--"to 


further  interest  in  the  history  of  the  state  of  Florida,  to 
form  a  library  devoted  to  Florida  history,  to  acquire  and 
preserve  historical  documents  and  memorabilia  and  collec- 
tions of  any  sort  referring  to  Florida,  to  foster  research 
in  early  records,  to  publish  results  of  such  research,  to 
render  accessible  scarce  historical  materials  by  facsimile 

of  reprint , "--May  became  an  enthusiastic  booster  of  the 

2  8 
society.    She  wrote  some  forty-two  letters  to  prominent 

friends,  asking  them  to  join  also.   Many  accepted  her  in- 
vitation.  Early  members  included  Lincoln  Hulley,  Senator 
D.  U.  Fletcher,  Peter  0.  Knight,  Kirk  Munroe ,  Dr.  Prentice 
Carson,  Dr.  James  A.  Robertson,  Cary  Hardee,  and  A.  A. 
Murphree.   When  the  society's  first  publication  appeared 
in  late  1922,  May's  name  and  that  of  many  of  her  friends 

appeared  on  the  back  flyleaf  of  the  book  as  sustaining  mem- 


bers  of  the  organization. 

During  this  period  May  also  became  a  friend  of 
Jeanette  Thurber  Connor  (Mrs.  Washington  E.  Connor)  who 
had  been  a  co-founder  of  the  Florida  State  Historical 

Society,  and  who  was  a  resident  of  New  York  City  but  spent 

her  winters  in  New  Smyrna.    During  one  of  her  Florida 

sojourns,  Mrs.  Connor  became  interested  in  the  ruins  of  an 
old  sugar  mill  in  Volusia  County.  She  incorrectly  identi- 
fied the  ruins  as  the  remains  of  the  Spanish  mission,  San 

Joseph  de  Jororo ,  erected  1696,  and  thus  one  of  Florida's 

31  •   •   H 

oldest  surviving  relics.    Mrs.  Connor  bought  the   mission 

and  began  to  restore  it. 


Jeanette  Connor  and  May  Jennings  became  close  friends 
and  visited  in  each  other's  homes  on  many  occasions.   In  May 
1923,  when  May,  as  chairman  of  the  state  DAR's  old  roads  and 
trails  committee,  acted  as  toastmistress  at  a  banquet  which 
celebrated  the  dedication  of  the   newly  erected  DAR  Ribault 
monument  at  Mayport,  Mrs.  Connor  was  present.   The  so-called 
"mission"  of  Mrs.  Connor's  was  dedicated  at  elaborate  cere- 
monies February  1926,  with  May,  DAR  and  Historical  Society 


members,  and  other  prominent  Floridians  in  attendance. 

By  1927  May  had  become  a  vice-president  of  the  his- 
torical society.   At  the  society's  annual  meeting  held  at 
DeLand,  February  1927,  she  was  given  the  responsibility  of 
raising  the  money  to  save  Turtle  Mound,  an  ancient  Indian 
midden  located  on  the  Indian  River  near  Titusville.   The 
mound,  referred  to  by  Mrs.  Connor  as  a  "monument  to  the 

ancient  and  popular  institution  of  the  picnic,"  was  nearly 

100  yards  long  and  over  80  feet  high.  '  It  was  being  de- 
stroyed by  sightseers,  roadbuilders  seeking  shell,  and 
fishermen,  who  were  depleting  the  oyster  beds  which  lay  at 
the  foot  of  the  mound.   Mrs.  Connor  had  been  trying  to  save 
the  site  since  1921  but  without  success.   In  1924  when  she 
urged  May  to  help,  she  was  told,  "All  this  about  Turtle 
Mound  is  most  interesting  and  as  soon  as  I  can  get  my  breath 
I  will  see  what  can  be  done."34  By  1927  May  began  the  cam- 
paign to  save  the  mound.   For  over  a  year  she  helped  raise 
money  to  buy  the  site.    In  1928  the  mound  was  purchased 
and  placed  under  the  protective  custody  of  the 


historical  society.   During  the  1930s  May  made  frequent 
visits  to  the  site,  which  had  been  fenced  off,  to  monitor 
the  situation  and  she  sought  help  from  state  authorities 
who  had  agreed  to  save  the  mound's  oyster  beds.   Eventually 
the  mound  was  deeded  to  the  state,  and  it  became  a  part  of 
the  Florida  park  system. 

In  1929  an  event  occurred  which  caused  May  Jennings 
and  others  to  look  back  on  the  preceding  decade  and  her 
remarkable  career.   It  had  been  an  active  ten  years  which 
had  produced  failure--the  demise  of  the  temperance  and  law 
enforcement  organization,  and  the  destruction  of  the  Main 
Street  parkway — and  success — the  $17,000,000  raised  for 
Liberty  Loan,  the  state  appropriation  for  Royal  Palm  Park, 
establishment  of  a  statewide  cattle  dipping  program,  pas- 
sage of  the  bill  creating  the  state  board  of  forestry,  and 
the  preservation  of  Turtle  Mound.   There  had  been  other 
victories  too.   Scores  of  conservation  laws,  a  state  com- 
pulsory education  law,  a  new  state  library,  a  state  ma- 
ternity-infancy program,  and  Indian  protection  laws  were 
all  on  the  statute  books.   May,  who  had  played  a  major 
role  in  the  passage  of  each  of  these  measures  was  now 
recognized  as  "the  most  widely  known"  and  respected  woman 

•   m   :/.   35 
in  Florida. 

On  March  17,  1929,  Stetson  University  conferred 

upon  May  Austin  Elizabeth  Mann  Jennings,  an  honorary 

Doctor  of  Laws  degree,  the  L.L.D.   Others  honored  that 

day  by  the  university  were  Florida  Governor  Doyle  E.  Carlton, 


and  John  B.  Stetson,  Jr. ,  who  was  at  that  time,  United 
States  Minister  to  Poland.   At  the  ceremonies  presenting 
the  degrees,  President  Lincoln  Hulley,  of  Stetson,  said, 
when  awarding  May  her  honor,  that  he  was  conferring  "the 
degree  for  distinguished  service  to  Florida  upon  one  who 
had  doctored  more  laws  than  anyone  else  in  the  state." 
It  was  an  apt  statement.   Since  1906  she  had  been  sub- 
mitting memorials  and  bills  to  the  legislature  and  "doc- 
toring" laws.   No  other  person,  past  or  present,  could 
claim  such  a  long  list  of  accomplishments  or  to  have  left 
such  a  personal  imprint  upon  the  history  of  the  state.   It 
was  a  glorious  moment  in  May's  long  career. 


Motes  to  Chanter  IX 

1[May  Jennings],  "Royal  Palm  State  Park,"  Mr . 
Foster's  Travel  Magazine,     XI,  January,  1919,  n.p. 

2May  Jennings  to  E.W.  Nelson,  September  15,  1919. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  15. 

3W.E.  Safford,  "Natural  History  of  Paradise  Key 
and  Nearby  Everglades  of  Florida,"  Smithsonian  Journal 
1917,  pp.  337-434;  Arthur  T.  Howell,  "Birds  of  Royal  Palm 
Hammock,"  The  Auk,  April,  1921,  pp.  5-10. 

W.  Stanley  Hansen  to  May  Jennings,  April  22,  1918. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  12. 

5Pamphlet,  Florida  Audubon  Society,  "A  Defense  of 
the  Pelican/'  1918.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  12. 

6May  Jennings  to  Rose  Lewis,  March  9,  1918.   MMJ 
Papers,  Box  12. 

7May  Jennings  to  E.W.  Nelson,  February  18,  1921. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  17. 

8Memorial,  FFWC,  "To  the  Honorable  Members  of  the 
Florida  Legislature,  Session,  1919."   MMJ  Papers,  Box  13. 

9May  Jennings  to  Ivy  Stranahan,  February  9,  1918. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  12. 

10James  Covington,  "Trail  Indians  of  Florida," 
Florida  Historical  Quarterly,  LVIII,  July,  1979,  p.  40. 

11Williamson/  who  was  a  botanist  and  graduate  of 
North  Carolina  State  University,  later  served  as  vice- 
oresident  of  the  United  States  Forestry  Association.   After 
long  service  to  the  cause  of  Florida  forestry  he  is  remem- 
bered as  the  "father  of  the  Florida  tung  oil  industry." _ 
For  a  sketch  of  Williamson's  life  see  Jacksonville  Florida 
Times-Union,  August  10,  1952. 

12B.F.  Williamson,  "Sketch  and  Reminiscenses , " 
unpublished  MS.,  P.K.  Yonge  Library  of  Florida  History, 
p.  6. 

13Pamphlet,  Florida  Forestry  Association,  "Forest 
Fires  in  Florida,"  December,  1926,  n.p. 



Williamson,  "Sketch,"  p.  6. 

15Forest  History  Society,  "Oral  Interview  with  Clinton 
H.  Coulter,  State  Forester,  Florida  Forest  Service," 
February  6,  1958,  Tallahassee,  p.  6. 

16George  Dacy,  Four  Centuries  of  Florida  Ranching 
(St.  Louis,  1940),  p.  149. 

Mrs.  W.S.  Jennings,  "Conservation  in  Florida," 
Christian  Science  Monitor,  October  18,  1925. 

18Stuart  Camubell,  "Timber  Conservation  Studies  in 
Forestry  Resources' in  Florida,"  Bureau  of  Economics  and 
Business  Research,  I,  May,  1932,  p.  57. 

19Forest  History  Society,  "Oral  Interview  with 
Clinton  H.  Coulter,"  p.  5. 

20Williamson,  "Sketch,"  p.  6. 

21May  Jennings  to  Paul  G.  Redington,  July  21,  19  27. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  18. 

22J.A.  Robertson  to  May  Jennings,  July  30,  1927. 
MMJ  Papers,  Box  18. 

23Joe  Ackerman,  Jr.,  Florida  Cowman;  A  History  of 
Florida  Cattle  Raising  (Madison,  Florida,  1976),  p.  237. 

24Ibid. ,  pp.  227-229. 

25William  Blackman  to  "To  The  Presidents  of  Women's 
Clubs  of  Florida,"  March  22,  1919.   MMJ  Papers,  Box  15. 

26For  an  explanation  of  why  Stetson  organized  a  new 
historical  society  and  did  not  join  the  Florida  Historical 
Society  see  Watt  Marchman,  "The  Florida  Historical  Society, 
1856-1930,"  Florida  Historical  Quarterly,  XIX,  July,  1940. 
p.  28. 

27Program.   Community  Pageant  Association,  Florida 
Historical  Pagent,  April  20-22,  1922. 

28Florida  State  Historical  Society,  Charter  and 
By-Laws  of  the  Florida  State  Historical  Society  (Deland, 
1922) ,  n. p. 

29Ales  Hrdlicka,  The  Anthropology  of  Florida  (Deland, 
1922) ,  p.  flyleaf. 



Jean  Little,  "The  Life  and  Work  of  Jeanette  T. 

Connor"  (M.A.  thesis,  Stetson  University,  1933). 


In  1941  Charles  H.  Coe  in  Debunking  the  So-Called 

Spanish  Mission  Near  Nev;  Smyrna  Beach  established  conclu- 
sively that  the  "mission"  was  a  sugar  mill  built  about  183  0 
by  the  New  York  firm  of  Cruger  and  DePeyster.   He  attri- 
buted  Miss  Connor's  error  to  "an  honest  mistake"  in 

32  .  • 

New  Smyrna  News ,  February  20,  1926.   In  addition 

to  speeches  and  prayers  by  notables  the  Glee  Club  of 
Stetson  University  sang  patriotic  songs. 


Little,  "Jeanette  T.  Connor,"  p.  26. 


May  Jennings  to  Jeanette  Connor,  March  21,  1927. 

MMJ  Papers,  Box  18. 


Jacksonville  Florida  Tines-Union,  March  17,  1929. 

Blackman,  The  Women  of  Florida,  II,  p.  92. 


The  last  three  decades  of  May  Jennings'  life  were 
devoted  primarily  to  conservation  and  beautif ication  work, 
although  she  continued  as  president  of  the  Legislative 
Council  and  of  the  Duval  County  Democratic  Women,  Inc. 
In  1931  the  Legislative  Council  and  the  League  of  Women 
Voters  worked  hard  for  passage  of  a  state  hours  and  sani- 
tation bill  which  they  submitted  after  a  survey  conducted 
by  the  Federal  Bureau  of  Women  found  that  Florida  women 
suffered  from  some  of  the  lowest  salaries  and  poorest 
working  conditions  in  the  country.   The  bill  did  not  pass, 
but  the  two  organizations  continued  their  efforts  to 
up-grade  the  life  style  of  women.   The  League  was  particu- 
larly active  in  urging  Florida  women  to  play  a  more  active 
role  in  local  and  state  political  and  civic  affairs. 

The  Duval  County  Democratic  Women,  Inc.,  in  its 
early  days  reached  a  peak  membership  of  1,500  but  declined 
to  about  4  00.   Through  the  years  the  organization  opposed 
the  use  of  "sweat  boxes"  in  state  prisons  and  jails, 
sought  the  purging  of  Duval  County  registration  lists  of 
names  that  were  no  longer  pertinent,  called  for  voting 
machines  in  all  elections,  and  helped  promote  the  passage 
of  bills  which  prohibited  politicking  around  polling 



places.   They  also  sponsored  annual  voter  registration  and 
get-out-the-vote  drives.   In  193  6  the  organization  support- 
ed the  passage  of  the  rule  change,  known  as  the  "5  0/5  0," 
which  allowed  women  greater  participation  in  the  affairs 
of  the  Democratic  party.   As  a  consequence,  the  organiza- 
tion endorsed  and  promoted  a  list  of  Florida  women  who  were 
elegible  for  election  as  delegates  to  the  1936  national 
party  convention.   At  the  time  May  expressed  her  hope  "that 
every  precinct  and  ward  in  every  county  and  the  state 
committee  would  be  filled  by  proper  representatives  of 
our  best  women  citizens."    Later  that  same  year  May  was 
among  the  delegation  of  women  who  escorted  Mrs.  Eleanor 
Roosevelt  when  she  came  to  Jacksonville  on  a  speaking 

After  nineteen  years  as  head  of  the  organization  May 
Jennings  noted  in  an  interview  with  a  local  newspaper 
reporter,  "Women  vote  now  and  think  nothing  of  it.   But 
there  was  a  day  when  they  didn't  and  thought  a  great  deal 
about  it.  .  .  .   We  must  keep  active,  we  stand  for  high 
class  elections,  but  we  don't  endorse  candidates.   Instead, 
we  endorse  measures.   We  go  out  for  something  and  fight 

for  it."   She  also  said  that  she  had  "fought  for  causes 


ever  since  I  can  remember." 

May  continued  her  work  for  the  Florida  State  His- 
torical Society,  serving  as  vice-president,  with  special 
responsibilities  for  overseeing  the  Connor  "mission"  and 


Turtle  Mound.   In  1939  the  Society  merged  with  the  Florida 
Historical  Society,  and  May  was  no  longer  as  active  as  she 
once  had  been.   By  that  time  Turtle  Mound  and  the  "mission1 
had  been  placed  under  the  auspices  of  the  state  park  sys- 
tem and  had  been  designated  historic  memorials. 

The  Florida  Federation  of  Women's  Clubs  and  the 
Springfield  Improvement  Association  continued  to  receive 
May's  attention.   In  1932  the  SIA,  later  known  as  the 
Springfield  Woman's  Club,  built  a  clubhouse  only  a  few 
blocks  from  the  Jennings'  home.   In  1954  the  club  cele- 
brated its  fiftieth  anniversary.   Through  the  years  the 
organization  kept  a  vigilant  eye  upon  Springfield  and  took 
the  lead  in  keeping  the  public  buildings,  schools,  and 
parks  in  the  area  clean  and  in  repair.   The  group  also 
supported  the  efforts  to  beautify  Hogan's  Creek  in  Spring- 
field Park.   As  Lucy  Blackman  remembered:  "Some  years  ago 
Mrs.  Jennings  represented  the  Springfield  Improvement 
Association  in  a  campaign  to  beautify  unsightly  muddy 
Hogan's  Creek  which  divides  the  main  part  of  dov/ntown 
Jacksonville  from  Springfield.   The  Creek  winds  through 
the  city  for  a  mile  and  a  half  before  it  empties  into  the 
St.  Johns  River.   The  Association  under  Mrs.  Jennings' 
leadership  worked  18  years  before  they  secured  a  bond 
election  for  a  half  million  dollars  for  the  work  and  it 
took  two  years  more  before  they  could  persuade  the  city 
commission  to  sell  the  bonds  for  the  work.   Mrs.  Jennings 


finally  secured  the  engineer  wanted  for  the  work  and  it  is 
now  conceded  the  most  outstanding  work  of  its  kind  in  the 
whole  southeast—with  its  bulkhead,  concrete  walks  and 
ballisters  and  lighting  system.   A  bronze  tablet  bears 
the  Springfield  Improvement  Association  name  and  date. 

Mrs.  Jennings  was  asked  to  dedicate  the  beautiful  improve- 

ment  and  turn  on  the  lights  which  she  did." 

Through  the  years  May  continued  her  interest  in 

state  government.   In  1942  when  officials  threatened  to 

change  public  health  policy,  she  submitted  the  following 

resolution  to  the  Federation:  "whereas  civilian  health  is 

a  paramount  consideration  at  the  present  time  .  .  .  and  the 

state  has  announced  the  intention  of  discontinuing  public 

health  service  and  units  in  counties  of  less  than  25,000 

population,  be  it  resolved  that  the  FFWC  protests  the 

discontinuance  .  .  .  and  that  copies  of  this  resolution  be 

forwarded  to  Governor  Holland  and  the  State  Board  of 

Health  and  the  press."    The  resolution,  along  with  protests 

which  May  solicited  from  other  organizations,  prevented 
the  cancellation  of  the  program. 

In  1928  she  served  as  Ruth  Bryan  Owen's  campaign 
manager  in  Owen ' s  second  bid  for  election  to  the  House  of 
Representatives.   After  the  election  May  helped  organize 
the  Washington  office  and  recommended  workers  for  the  Congress- 
woman  '  s  staff.   The  relationship  between  these  two  extraor- 
dinary women  allowed  May  to  continue   the  fight  to  preserve 


the  Everglades.   Mrs.  Owen  was  also  an  avowed  conserva- 
tionist, and  one  of  her  first  actions  in  Congress  was  to 
sponsor  a  bill  calling  for  the  creation  of  a  national 
park  in  the  Everglades.   The  idea  was  not  new,  for  many 
groups  had  called  for  it  over  the  years,  but  Mrs.  Owen's 
was  prepared  to  fight  for  it  on  the  national  level. 
Senator  Duncan  U.  Fletcher  sponsored  the  bill  in  the  Senate. 

As  soon  as  the  new  bill  was  announced,  May,  with 
the  concurrence  of  the  Federation,  offered  Royal  Palm  Park 
to  the  new  national  park,  if  and  when  it  should  be  created. 
She  also  worked  with  other  interested  groups  to  make  the 
park  become  a  reality.   The  struggle  to  save  the  Ever- 
glades and  establish  a  national  park  proved  long  and 
arduous.   May  and  her  fellow  conservationists  pushed  bills 
through  the  192  9  legislature  which  laid  the  groundwork 
for  the  park  by  providing  for  the  acquisition  of  state- 
owned  lands  in  Dade,  Monroe,  and  Collier  counties,   and 
for  the  establishment  of  a  state  Everglades  Park  Commission. 
The  onset  of  the  Depression,  however,  and  the  defeat  of 
Ruth  Owen  in  1932,  sidetracked  the  issue,  and  little  was 
achieved  for  many  years  except  the  holding  of  hearings  and 
the  production  of  feasibility  studies. 

During  the  years  many  prominent  Floridians  and 
other  Americans  spoke  out  in  favor  of  the  proposed  park, 
including  Ebert  K.  Furlew,  United  States  Secretary  of  the 
Interior;  Gilbert  Pearson,  president  of  the  National 


Audubon  Society;  Roger  Toll,  superintendent  of  Yellowstone 
Park;  H.C.  Bumpus,  of  the  National  Park  Service;  and  David 
Fairchild,  Ernest  F.  Coe,  and  John  K.  Small.   When  famed 
landscape  architect  Frederick  Law  Olmsted  toured  the  glades 
on  an  official  inspection  trip,  he  was  escorted  by  Coe, 
chairman  of  a  citizens  group   known  as  the  Tropic 
Everglades  National  Park  Association.   May  worked  with 
Coe's  organization  as  well  as  with  the  Federation,  the 
state  Audubon  Society,  and  all  other  groups  which  favored 
the  project.   In  1934  President  Franklin  D.  Roosevelt 
signed  the  bill  which  authorized  the  park,  but  it  would  be 
many  years  before  the  park  became  a  reality. 

During  the  years  May  continued  to  oversee  operations 
at  Royal  Palm  Park.   The  site  registered  over  20,000 
visitors  in  1930,  but  fires  and  devastating  storms  con- 
tinued to  wreak  havoc.   With  the  help  of  her  son,  Bryan, 
who  was  president  of  the  state  Board  of  Forestry,  she 
secured  a  brigade  of  the  Civilian  Conservation  Corp  for 
the  park.   They  made  extensive  repairs  to  the  lodge  and 
grounds  and  accomplished  much  fire  protection  work. 

Governor  David  Sholtz,  a  past  president  of  the 
State  Chamber  of  Commerce,  appointed  May  to  the  state's 
Everglades  National  Park  Commission  which  had  been  author- 
ized in  1929.   In  1937  the  other  commissioners  elected 
her  to  lobby  the  legislature  for  an  $87,000  appropriation 
to  provide  for  the  commission's  work.   Fred  Cone,  the  new 


governor,  who  was  opposed  to  the  national  park,  agreed  to 
sign  the  appropriation  bill  if  the  entire  commission  would 
first  resign.   He  assured  May  that  later  he  would  reinstate 
most  of  the  members.   Since  there  was  no  other  choice  under 
threat  of  a  veto  May  acceded  to  Cone's  demand.   After  the 
commission  resigned  Cone  proceeded  to  appoint  G.O.  Palmer, 
a  friend  from  Columbia  County,  as  the  new  chairman  of  the 
commission.   Palmer  allowed  the  commission  to  remain  in 
limbo  and  it  was  claimed  that  he  allowed  the  funds  to  be 
expended  on  relatively  unimportant  activities.   May  was 
enraged  and  embarrassed  by  the  governor's  behavior.   She 
had  made  what  she  though  v/as  a  fair  political  arrangement, 
and  she  felt  that  she  had  been  betrayed.   Thereafter  she 
considered  Cone  "a  double-dealer"  and  a  dishonest  man. 
But,  Cone's  tactic  effectively  stymied  the  movement  to 
establish  the  park. 

Despite  such  discouraging  setbacks,  May  and  the 
conservationists  continued  their  work.   World  War  II  again 
eclipsed  the  movement,  but  after  1945  Governor  Millard 
Caldwell   revived  the  defunct  commission  naming  May  as  a 
member.   The  new  commission  v/as  led  by  August  Burghard 
from  Fort  Lauderdale  and  John  D.  Pennekamp  of  Miami.   Among 
the  twenty-five  commissioners  were  May's  old  friends  Mrs. 
T.V.  Moore,  longtime  Federation  worker  from  Miami,  and 
Harold  Colee,  a  state  Chamber  of  Commerce  official.   May, 
who  was  now  seventy-four,  still  owned  land  near  Flamingo, 


and  was  designated  by  the  governor  to  be  the  commissioner 
who  represented  the  area's  landowners.   May  immediately 
deeded  her  land  to  the  state  for  the  park.   Pennekamp 
remembered  May  as  "a  most  loyal  commission  member,  who 

attended  every  meeting,  took  little  or  no  part  in  the 

M  5 

discussion,  but  invariably  voted  approval  of  all  proposals." 

When  the  Everglades  National  Park  became  a  reality  in  the 
spring  of  1947,  the  old  Federation  lodge  at  Royal  Palm 
Park  was  utilized  as  the  park's  first  visitor's  center. 

Ceremonies  dedicating  the  national  park  were  held 
at  Everglades,  Florida,  on  December  6,  1947.   The  ceremony 
was  attended  by  many  national  and  state  officials  and 
dignitaries  and  by  mere  than  8,000  of  the  general  public. 
May  was  seated  on  the  speaker's  platform.   Her  involvement 
in  the  preservation  of  the  Everglades  was  longer  than  any 
other  person  present.   Presiding  was  John  Pennekamp,  and 
there  were  speeches  by  Ernest  F.  Coe,  August  Burghard, 
Senators  Claude  Pepper  and  Spessard  Holland,  Governor 
Caldwell,  and  Secretary  of  the  Interior  Julius  A.  Krug. 
President  Harry  S.  Truman,  who  was  wintering  at  Key  West, 
flew  to  Everglades  and  delivered  the  keynote  address.   May 
was  on  the  program  preceding  the  speeches;  she  and  Mrs. 
L.J.  McCaffery,  president  of  the  Florida  Federation  of 
Women's  Clubs,  presented   a   plaque  to  Newton  Drury, 
director  of  the  National  Park  Service.   The  presentation 


was  a  symbolic  act  giving  Royal  Palm  State  Park  to  the 

federal  government.   It  culminated  the  thirty-three  year 

fight  May  had  waged  to  preserve  the  beauty  and  uniqueness 

of  Paradise  Key  and  the  surrounding  Everglades. 

The  Florida  Times-Union  that  day  published  a  long 

editorial  summing  up  May  Jennings'  life's  work: 

Everglades  National  Park  was  a 
permanent  monument  to  the  Florida 
Federation  of  Women's  Clubs,  for 
to  this  energetic  organization  must 
go  most  of  the  credit  for  the  long 
and  much  of  the  time  trying  struggle 
that  resulted  in  setting  aside  that 
portion  of  the  Everglades  area  that 
now  becomes  Everglades  National 
Park  .  .  .  the  part  played  by  the 
Florida  Federation  of  Women's  Clubs 
is  recognized  by  the  Government, 
as  indicated  by  a  letter  received 
by  Mrs.  W.S.  Jennings  .  .  .  from 
Newton  B.  Drury,  director  of  the 
National  Park  Service.   'The  dona- 
tion by  the  Federation  constitutes 
a  major  step  toward  the  ultimate 
goal  .  .  .  the  State  Park  area  has 
been  properly  guarded  from  depredation 
and  perpetually  kept  for  Park 
purposes  by  the  Federation  as  you 
pledged  it  would  be  in  your  speech 
of  dedication  on  November  23,  1916.' 
.  .  .  All  who  are  familiar  with  the 
work  of  Mrs.  Jennings  will  agree 
that  a  large  measure  of  credit  is 
due  her  for  determination  and  per- 
sistence which  at  times  bridged  wide 
gaps  of  disappointment  in  the  progress 
of  the  program.   Today  Mrs.  Jennings, 
who  is  attending  the  dedication  at 
Everglades  City,  declared  that  'it 
has  been  a  long  hard  fight,  but  the 
final  outcome  very  gratifying';  with  _ 
that  there  will  be  general  agreement. 

Since  her  youth  May  had  been  interested  in  beautifi- 

cation  work,  and  from  the  early  1920s  until  her  death  in 


1963  she  was  the  most  prominent  "beautifier"  in  Florida. 
Like  many  other  movements  the  beautif ication  movement 
seemed  to  have  a  life  of  its  own.   Beginning  around  1920, 
it  grew  rapidly  during  that  decade,  peaked  in  the  1930s 
and  1940s,  and  gradually  declined  during  the  years  after 
World  War  II.   Several  organizations  were  used  to  accom- 
plish the  goals  of  the  beautifiers.   The  first  formal 
garden  club  in  Florida  was  organized  in  Jacksonville  on 
March  25,  1922,  at  the  Riverside  Avenue  home  of  Ninah 


Cummer.  Its  membership  was  composed  mainly  of  women  from 
the  Jacksonville  Woman's  Club.  Two  years  later  the  ladies 
again  met  in  Jacksonville,  this  time  at  Grace  Trout's 

(Mrs.  George  W.  Trout)  home  and  organized  the  Florida 

Federation  of  Garden  Clubs.    Three  clubs  were  listed  in 

the  charter — Jacksonville,  Halifax,  and  Winter  Park.   This 
federation  grew  rapidly,  and  within  a  decade  there  were 
many  clubs  throughout  the  state,  each  with  its  own  indivi- 
dual cells,  called  circles.   Jacksonville  counted  eighteen 
circles.     May  belonged  to  the  Springfield  circle.   The 
Rockledge  club  had  a  circle  composed  of  black  women  known 
as  the  Magnolia  circle. 

The  Federation  of  Garden  Clubs  became  an  invaluable 
ally  of  May  Jennings.   Other  groups  supporting  May's 
beautif ication  efforts  were  the  Tamiami  Trail  Association, 
Dixie  Highway  Association,  Florida  Branch  of  the  National 
Association  for  Restriction  of  Outdoor  Advertising,  Florida 


Federation  of  Women's  Clubs,  and  the  State  Chamber  of 
Commerce.   May's  initial  introduction  into  the  movement 
came  when  she  attended  the  Third  annual  state  Beautifica- 
tion  Convention,  sponsored  by  the  Chamber,  which  met  in 
Tampa,  October  1924.     At  the  convention  she  gave  a  speech 
on  the  conservation  movement  in  Florida.   In  1928  her 
interest  in  beautif ication  work  began  in  earnest  when  she 

and  a  small  group  met  June  19,  at  the  Jacksonville  Mason 

Hotel.     The  Association  developed  close  ties  with  local 

garden  clubs,  the  Chamber  of  Commerce,  and  other  groups 
interested  in  beautif ication. 

The  State  Chamber  of  Commerce  had  a  long  and  com- 
plex history.   There  had  been  many  Florida  booster  organi- 
zations over  the  years,  but  the  immediate  antecedent  of 
the  Chamber  was  the  Tick  Eradication  Board  established  in 
1916.   This  board  was  in  turn  an  offshoot  of  the  Southern 
Settlement  and  Development  Association,  which  was  composed 
of  growth-minded  cattlemen  and  lumbermen.   In  1921  the 
Tick  Eradication  Board  changed  its  name  to  the  Florida 
Development  Board,  and  in  1925  to  the  Florida  State  Chamber 
of  Commerce.   Through  these  formative  years  it  was  led  by 
the  same  slate  of  officers,  including  Jules  M.  Burguierres 
of  West  Palm  Beach,  William  L.    Wilson  of  Panama  City,  A. A. 
Coult  of  Fort  Myers,  and  A.G.  Cummer  of  Jacksonville.   May 
Jennings  began  working  with  the  organization  when  it  was 
still  known  as  the  Tick  Eradication  Board.   By  the  time 


it  had  turned  into  the  Chamber  and  moved  its  headquarters 
to  Jacksonville,  she  was  one  of  its  better  known  members. 

For  years  the  Chamber,  the  garden  clubs,  and  others 
tried  to  get  beautif ication  and  highway  standards  upgraded, 
but  without  too  much  success.   As  president  of  the  Duval 
County  Highway  Beautif ication  Association  May  attended 
the  Chamber's  Eleventh  Annual  State  Beautif ication  Conven- 
tion November,  1928,  in  Kissimmee,  and  addressed  the  meet- 
ing with  a  speech  entitled  "Legislation  for  Highway  Beauti- 

f ication."     It  was  apparent  to  the  assembly  tnat  May  was 

both  determined  and  prepared.   She  had  come  with  a  bill  on 
highway  beautif ication  which  she  presented  to  the  conven- 
tion.  It  later  was  published  in  Beautiful  Florida,  the 
Florida  Federation  of  Garden  Club's  official  journal.   She 
wrote,  "it  seems  quite  time,  although  years  too  late  in 
some  cases,  but  vital  to  the  future  of  the  state,  for 
higher  authorities  to  take  a  decided  stand  and  declare  a 
definite  policy  in  regard  to  road  beautif ication  and  plan 
for  rights-of-way  suitable  to  such  need.   I  will  recommend 

to  the  Legislative  Council  that  a  definite  policy  be  fixed 

by  law."     Her  bill,  which  had  been  drawn  up  with  the 

help  of  her  son,  Bryan,  had  several  sections:  it  mandated 
that  a  beautif ication  expert  be  appointed  to  the  State 
Road  Department's  governing  board,  every  Florida  road  have 
a  right-of-way  of  not  less  than  100  feet;  all  road  construc- 
tion be  done  from  the  center  of  the  right-of-way  outward, 


and  that  any  widening  of  a  roadbed  be  uniform  in  nature; 
beautif ication  and  landscaping  work  reproduce  the  natural 
setting  as  close  as  practicable;  at  least  twenty-four  feet 
of  the  100  foot  right-of-way  be  reserved  for  conservation 
and  beautif ication;  all  wire-holding  poles  be  set  back 
to  the  outer  edges  of  the  right-of-way;  and  county  commis- 
sioners be  allowed  to  authorize  expenditures  for  beautifi- 
cation  of  county  roads.   The  measure  left  little  to  conjec- 
ture or  debate;  like  all  of  May  Jennings'  proposed  bills, 
it  was  direct  and  to-the-point. 

In  1929  May  with  the  endorsement  of  Governor  Doyle 
Carlton,  submitted  her  bill  to  the  state  legislature. 
Hours  of  lobbying  persuaded  her  that  the  bill  would  be 
passed,  but  it  was  narrowly  defeated.   At  the  time  she 
wrote  to  Federation  members,  "You  will  recall  that  the 
Highway  Beautif ication  Bill  was  taken  by  me  to  Tallahassee 
with  the  full  endorsement  of  the  FFWC ,  by  the  Duval  High- 
way Beautif ication  Association,  where  it  originated,  by  the 
State  Chamber  of  Commerce,  Gulf  Coast  Highway  and  Florida 
Federation  of  Garden  Clubs.   I  have  never  handled  legis- 
lation .  .  .  that  had  such  enthusiastic  support,  and  still 
failed  to  become  law.  ...   I  had  two  conferences  with 
the  Governor  and  several  with  Chairman  Bentley.  ...   It 

is  needless  to  tell  you  that  I  also  had  to  satisfy  the 

wire,  or  pole  using  companies."     Utility  and  outdoor 

advertising  companies  were  to  remain  opponents  of  May's 


for  many  years.   In  1931  she  returned  to  Tallahassee  with 
the  bill.   This  time  even  more  groups  favored  its  passage, 
and  without  much  opposition  it  became  law.   Thereafter  May 
was  regarded  by  many  citizens  throughout  the  state  as  the 
leader  of  Florida's  highway  beautif ication  program. 

The  Duval  County  Highway  Beautif ication  Association 
became  an  organization  with  political  clout  and  reputation. 
It  helped  Jacksonville  and  Duval  County  and  was  responsi- 
ble for  many  important  projects  which  enhanced  the  quality 
of  life.   It  was  responsible  for  the  beautif ication  of 
eighteen  miles  of  Atlantic  Boulevard  from  Jacksonville  to 
the  beach  and  sixteen  miles  of  San  Jose-San  Marco  Boulevard, 
and  for  the  beautif ication  of  Pearl  Street,  Saratoga  Point, 
and  Beach  Boulevard.   It  oversaw  the  landscaping  of  city 
and  county  sites  including  Imeson  Airport,  the  Duval  County 
courthouse,  Matthew  Bridge  entrances,  and  the  downtown 
riverfront.   It  also  was  responsible  for  the  acquisition 
of  DeWees  Park  at  Atlantic  Beach  and  the  right-of-way  for 
the  road  which  leads  to  St.  John's  Bluff,  the  site  of 
Fort  Caroline  National  Park.   Since  the  mid-1930s  May  and 
others  were  interested  in  establishing  a  national  monument 
to  commemorate  the  landing  and  settlement  of  Ribault.   It 
was  not  until  the  election  of  Charles  Bennett  to  Congress 
that  the  Fort  Caroline  National  Park  became  a  reality. 

The  Duval  County  Highway  Beautif ication  Association 
also  turned  an  unsightly  dump  along  Long  Branch  Creek  and 


marsh  in  north  Springfield,  into  a  fifty-acre  park,  which 
when  complete  was  named  Jennings  Park,  in  May's  honor. 
In  addition  the  Association,  with  the  aid  of  local  garden 
clubs,  oversaw  the  planting  of  thousands  of  flowers,  trees, 
and  shrubs  along  the  county  and  city  roadways.   Many  of 
the  projects  were  completed  with  FERA,  CWA,  WPA,  and  PWA 
funds.   Through  the  years  the  Association  received  many 
accolades.   In  1958,  May's  last  year  as  its  president,  it 
was  cited  by  the  General  Federation  of  Women's  Clubs  and 
the  Sears-Roebuck  Foundation  as  one  of  the  nation ' s  most 
successful  beautif ication  groups. 

With  the  Hogan  Creek-Springfield  Park  project  and 
the  passage  of  the  highway  beautif ication  bill  of  1931 
behind  her,  May's  reputation  as  the  state's  leading  expo- 
nent of  beautif ication  was  further  enhanced  by  succeeding 
Karl  Lehmann,  as  chairraan  of  the  State  Chamber  of  Commerce's 
beautif ication  committee.   She  held  this  position  for  over 
twenty-five  years.   May  hoped  to  organize  beautif ication 
auxiliaries  in  each  community  which  had  a  Chamber  of 
Commerce.   Over  the  years  these  local  committees  helped 
establish  scores  of  local  parks  and  beautified  many  build- 
ings and  roadways.   In  193  6  May  served  on  the  board  of 
governors  of  the  Southern  Woman's  Digest,  a  magazine 
devoted  to  women's  interests  which  was  published  in  Jackson- 
ville.  The  magazine  lasted  only  one  year,  but  during  that 
time  she  published  several  articles  pertinent  to  conservation 


and  beautif ication.   In  one,  "God's  Own  Garden,"  she 

described  Royal  Palm  Park.    In  another  she  wrote  of 

Florida's  beaches  and  advocated  the  opening  to  the  public 
of  all  state  beaches,  "Our  beaches  must  be  declared  to  be 
state  reservations  or  parks  under  the  protection  of  the 
state.  .  .  .   Florida  women  must  realize  the  value  of 
Florida's  beaches  .  .  .  and  through  local  Chambers  of 
Commerce,  civic  and  social  groups  strive  for  a  'closed 
season'  on  Florida's  coastline"  which  is  being  fenced  off 
for  private  use.     Shortly  after  this  article  appeared 
she  proposed  that  the  state  legislature  enact  a  law  call- 
ing for  the  protection  and  beautif ication  of  the  state's 
waterways  and  beaches,  but  the  measure  did  not  pass. 
With  the  outbreak  of  World  War  II  in  1941  the 
beautification  movement  was  forced  to  operate   at  a  reduced 
pace.   Most  projects  were  geared  to  beautifying  the  grounds 
in  and  around  Florida's  many  military  installations.   At 
Cecil  Field  in  Jacksonville  May  personally  oversaw  the 
erection  and  landscaping  of  a  flagpole  plaza  on  the  quadrant 
in  front  of  base  headquarters.   During  the  conflict  she 
made  her  own  personal  contribution  to  the  war  effort   by 
opening  her  Springfield  home  to  roomers,  to  help  ease 
Jacksonville's  critical  housing  shortage.   Many  contem- 
poraries recall  the  small,  neat  sign,  "JENNINGS,"  which 
hung  from  her  front  porch  during  those  days.   In  1943  she 
participated  in  the  christening  of  the  10,500-ton  liberty 


ship  the  S.S.  W.S.  Jennings.   Members  of  the  family  and 
city  officials  attended  the  ceremony,  at  which  Thomas  B. 
Adams  gave  an  address  about  the  career  of  Governor  Jennings. 
Then  May  christened  the  ship  with  the  words,  "May  this 

liberty  ship  prove  as  sea  worthy,  sturdy,  strong,  and 

dependable  as  the  man  was,  whose  name  it  is  it  bear." 

After  the  war  a  resurgence  of  the  beautif ication 
program  took  place.   With  Americans  more  mobile  than  ever 
thousands  of  tourists  began  to  visit  the  state.   In  Florida 
several  memorial  highways  were  beautified  in  memory  of  the 
state's  war  dead,  including  a  section  of  the  Old  Spanish 
Trail  (U.S.  90)  from  Monticello  to  Tallahassee,  known  as 
the  Blue  Star  Highway;  the  highway  between  Tallahassee  and 
Thomasville,  Georgia;  and  a  section  of  Highway  3  01  which 
began  at  Clermont  and  extended  south  through  the  Florida 
ridge  for  more  than  sixty  miles.   These  and  scores  of  other 
such  projects  were  coordinated  by  May's  State  Chamber  of 
Commerce  beautif ication  committee. 

During  the  1950s  Florida  joined  the  national  Keep 
American  Beautiful  campaign.   For  nearly  a  decade  each 
September  was  designated  as  "Florida  Beautif ication  Month." 
During  this  month  May  and  her  committee  coordinated  the 
beautif ication  mobilization  effort  which  took  place  among 
hundreds  of  Florida  garden  and  women's  clubs,  chambers  of 
commerce,  and  beautif ication  associations.   Every  few 
years,  under  the  auspices  of  May's  committee,  these 


organizations  met  in  convention.   One  such  meeting  was 
held  in  1954. 20   Over  300  Floridians  devoted  a  day  to  dis- 
cussing anti-litter  campaigns,  law  enforcement  problems, 
and  public  education  issues.   That  same  year  May  began  to 
lobby  for  a  bill  calling  for  the  creation  of  a  division 
of  landscaping  within  the  State  Road  Department,  but  the 
bill  was  rejected  by  the  legislature. 

In  1956  the  State  Chamber  of  Commerce  dedicated  a 
new  headquarters  building  in  Jacksonville.   May  supervised 

the  landscaping  which  included  the  installation  of  sabel 


palms  and  flowering  trees  on  the  grounds.  '"   In  1959  she 

was  a  special  guest  when  the  William  R.  Kenan  Floral 


Gardens  were  dedicated  on  the  building's  lawn.  '"   In  1961 

May  resigned  as  head  of  the  committee.   She  was  now 
eighty-eight  years  old,  but  before  her  resignation  she 
agreed  to  oversee  one  last  "Florida  Beautif ication  Month" 
effort.   The  Florida  Times-Union  wrote:  "If  while  driving 
this  month  in  the  family  car  you  see  a  lovely  lady  out 
planting  flowers  and  shrubs  along  Florida's  highways,  it's 
a  good  bet  her  name  will  be  Mrs.  W.S.  Jennings.  .  .  .   She 
is  the  hardworking  chairman  of  the  State  Chamber's  Beauti- 
f ication  Committee.   Since  September  is  Beautif ication 
Month  in  Florida,  Mrs.  Jennings  and  her  co-workers  are 
extremely  busy  making  the  Sunshine  State  pretty  for  its 
winter  guests.   So  when  you  see  Mrs.  Jennings  out  planting 

this  month,  stop  and  give  her  a  hand  to  make  Florida  a  more 

beautiful  state." 


After  May's  retirement  she  received  a  plaque  from 

the  State  Chamber  of  Commerce  inscribed  with  a  resolution 

of  gratitude  for  her  years  of  service.     She  was  made  an 

honorary  member  of  the  beautif ication  committee  and  an 
honorary  life  member  of  the  Chamber.   By  now  May  had  become 
used  to  receiving  honors.   In  1955  she  was  named  the  Spring- 
field Woman's  Club  outstanding  citizen,  and  the  following 

year  the  Jacksonville  branch  of  Soroptimist  International 

named  her  "Woman  of  the  Year. "  '   She  had  been  honored  at 

a  University  of  Florida  Centennial  convocation  program  in 

Gainesville  in  1953,  with  a  medal  for  meritorious  service 

as  one  of  Florida's  most  outstanding  leaders.     In  1961 

the  University  named  a  female  residence  hall  in  her  honor. 

In  the  building  hangs  a  bronze  plaque  upon  which  is 

inscribed  the  words: 

May  Austin  Mann  Jennings 
A  civic  leader  and  wife  of  William 
Sherman  Jennings,  made  her  own  out- 
standing contributions  to  the  life 
and  growth  of  this  state  as  a  pioneer 
in  highway  beautif ication  and  park 
development.   The  progress  of 
Florida  forestry  owes  much  to  her 
dedicated  interest. 27 

In  1961  May  Jennings  contracted  cancer  and  retired 

from  all  civic  activities.   Her  son  and  daughter-in-law 

moved  into  her  home  to  care  for  her.   She  died  quietly 

at  her  home  in  Jacksonville  on  April  24,  1963,  the  day 

before  her  ninety-first  birthday  with  her  son  at  her 

bedside.   Her  funeral  was  held  at  Riverside  Park  Methodist 


Church  where  friends,  including  Eartha  M.M.  White,  Chamber 
of  Commerce  officials,  and  members  of  the  Springfield  Woman's 
Club  paid  their  respects.   She  was  buried  next  to  her 
husband  in  Evergreen  cemetery.   The  Florida  Times-Union, 

in  editorial,  noted  her  passing  and  asked,  "Who  will  step 

2  8 
forward  to  take  her  spade?" 

The  legislature  of  the  state  of  Florida  issued  that 

day  a  concurrent  resolution  expressing  deep  sympathy  and 

regret  over  her  passing.   In  the  resolution  it  was  stated, 

"The  people  of  the  entire  state  of  Florida  mourn  the  loss 

of  a  warmly  dedicated  woman  of  rare  charm,  intelligence 

and  leadership  of  the  highest  order  who  built  an  enviable 

record  of  good  works,  NOW  THEREFORE,  BE  IT  RESOLVED  BY  THE 


SENATE  CONCURRING:  That  on  behalf  of  the  people  of  Florida 

this  legislature  does  unanimously  express  its  deep  and 

earnest  sense  of  regret  and  heartfelt  sorrow  at  her  untimely 



In  196  3  a  few  months  after  her  death  May  Jennings 
was  awarded  a  Chair  of  Business  in  the  State  Chamber  of 
Commerce's  Florida  Hall  of  Achievement.   On  November  12, 
19  66,  the  State  Road  Department  in  cooperation  with  the 
Florida  Federation  of  Garden  Clubs  erected  a  highway 
marker  on  U.S.  Highway  17,  near  Yulee,  where  U.S.  Highways 
1  and  301  enter  the  state.   The  marker  bears  the  inscription 
"In  memory  of  MAY  MANN  JENNINGS  lover  of  beauty." 


Notes  to  Chapter  X 

Southern  Woman's  Digest,  I,  April,  1936,  p.  2. 

Unidentified  newspaper  clipping,  June  21,  1945. 
In  possession  of  Dorothy  Jennings  Sandridge. 


Blackman,  The  Women  of  Florida,  II,  p.  96. 

Mrs.  Fred  Noble,  Florida  Federation  of  Women ' s 
Clubs:  Jubilee  Issue  (Jacksonville,  1946) ,  p.  85. 

John  D.  Pennekamp  to  author,  August  27,  1974. 

Miami  Herald,  December  7,  1947. 

7 Jacksonville  Florida  Times-Union,  December  6,  1947. 

Yearbook,  Jacksonville  Garden  Club,  Founder  s 

Circle,  1926-27,  n.p. 

9Ella  G.  Alsop,  History  of  the  Florida  Federation 
of  Garden  Clubs  (Jacksonville,  1943) ,  n.p. 

10Ibid.   In  1958  the  Jacksonville  Garden  Club  was  the 
largest  club  in  the  United  States  with  14  6  circles. 

Beautiful  Florida,  I,  November  1924,  p.  3. 

12  ... 

Duval  County  Highway  Beautif ication  Association 

Constitution  and  By-Laws,  1928,  n.p. 


Beautiful  Florida,  V,  November ,  1928,  p.  4. 

14Ibid. ,  V,  March,  1929,  p.  15. 

1::>The  Florida  Bulletin,  IX,  August,  1929,  p.  4. 

In  an  interview  with  the  author,  November  5,  1979, 
Representative  Bennett  recalled  that  May  Jennings  was 
politically  adroit,  had  a  calculating  mind  and  never  had 
an  "axe  to  grind,"  but  was  enjoyable  to  work  with. 


Southern  Woman's  Digest,  I,  April,  1936,  p.  6. 

18Ibid. ,  p.  4. 


Unidentified  newspaper  clipping  dated  July  26, 

1943.   In  possession  of  Dorothy  Jennings  Sandridge. 



Florida  Business  Review  and  Outlook,  XIII,  August, 

1954,  p.  1. 


Ibid. ,  XV,  December,  1956,  p.  1. 

Ibid. ,  XVIII,  February-March,  1959. 


Quoted  in  Florida  Business  Review  and  Outlook,  XX, 

September,  19  61,  pT  A~. 

Ibid. ,  XXI,  February,  1962,  p.  1. 


Jacksonville  Florida  Times-Union,  October  24,  1956. 

Program,  Centennial  Convocation,  Recipients  of 
Awards  (University  of  Florida,  1953) . 


Dedication  plaque,  May  Mann  Jennings  Hall,  Univer- 
sity of  Florida,  Gainesville,  Florida. 

2  8 

Jacksonville  Florida  Times-Union,  April  26,  1963. 


"House  Concurrent  Resolution,  No.  1196,  Expressing 

Deep  Sympathy  and  Regret  Over  the  Passing  of  May  Austin 

Mann  Jennings."   In  possession  of  Dorothy  Jennings  Sandridge. 


Kind  Friends, 

There  are  occasions  when  silence  is  more  eloquent 
than  words,  when  we  are  surrounded  by  circumstances  in 
which,  it  would  seem  mockery  to  attempt  to  give   utterance 
to  our  feelings.   Such  are  the  emotions  which  arise  in 
our  souls,  as  we  stand  before  you  today,  to  take  our  final 
f arewell . 

We  have  been  as  wayfarers  among  you  seeking  for 
treasures  in  distant  lands  and  in  our  search  for  knowledge 
we  have  been  separated  from  those  who  are  near  and  dear  to 
us,  but,  in  the  gloom  which,  at  times,  overspread  our  days 
of  search,  we  were  encouraged  by  the  thought  that  "Beyond 
the  Alps  Lay  Fair  Italy"  our  beloved  home  and  that  at  a 
future  day,  the  highest  peak  would  be  reached  and  laden 
with  treasures  we  would  return  to  our  homes. 

Ours  has  frequently  been  a  weary  struggle  for,  in 
the  rugged  paths,  how  often  has  the  shadow  of  discourage- 
ment disturbed  our  efforts!   How  often  has  the  phantom  of 
glory  tried  to  lead  us  astray!   How  often,  too,  have  we 
fallen  when  we  thought  ourselves  secure,  and  with  bleed- 
ing hearts  lay  amid  the  rocks;  but,  cheered  on  by  the 



hope  of  one  day  arriving  at  the  top  of  the  Alps  v/e  arose 
and  continued  our  work. 

Having  at  last,  climbed  one  by  one  the  rocky  cliffs, 
and  having  come  in  sight  of  our  friends  and  home,  we 
rejoice  and  fondly  arranging  the  treasures  sought  and 
found,  we   look  upon  them  and  with  the  poet,  consider  them 
"things  of  beauty,  hence,  joys  forever." 

Among  the  many  rare  and  precious  stones  which  we 
have  gathered  on  our  weary  journey  across  the  Alps,  our 
labor  has  been  rewarded  by  the  possession  of  the  Garnet, 
emblematic  of  constancy  and  fidelity;  we  have  also  found 
the  Bloodstone,  symbolical  of  wisdom,  courage  and  firmness; 
procured  the  peerless  Diamond  of  faith  and  innocence,  and 
secured  the  Sapphire  of  virtue  and  truth:  these  are  the 
most  precious  among  our  collection  of  gems;   these  com- 
plete our  casket. 

Although  we  were  happy  in  finding  our  earnestly 
sought  treasures,  yet,  we  often  grew  sad  and  sighed  for 
home,  but,  we  were  encouraged  by  the  kind  and  reassuring 
words  of  our  esteemed  guides,  for  whom  we  have  formed 
strong  attachments.   Our  associates,  too,  have  grown  dear 
to  us — and  as  we  greet  each  other  today  perhaps  to  meet  no 
more,  and  as  the  blithsome  notes  of  happy  school  day  songs 
are  echoed  among  the  heights,  the  key  notes  of  memory  are 
touched,  and  their  sweet  but  mournful  strains   force  the 


tear  drops  to  dim  our  eyes  "ere  we  summon  the  courage  to 
say  farewell." 

For  looking  backward  from  the  craggy  heights,  the 
scene  is  well  calculated  to  move  every  chord  and  to  open 
up  the  vista  of  the  past;  we  gaze  with  pleasure  mingled 
with  pain  on  the  dear  old  classroom  and  recreation  hall, 
where  hand-in-hand  we  worked  and  played  together,  and 
"the  social  smile  of  every  welcome  face,  will  in  fond 
memory  ever  hold  a  place." 

Nor  is  the  chapel  hidden,  where  low  before  our  Lord 

we  made  known  our  little  wants;  to  all  these  we  must  bid 

adieu,  but  in  days  to  come  happy  memories  will  call  forth 

the  aspiration, 

Oh!  friends  regretted, 
scenes  forever  dear, 
Rememberance  hails  you 
with  her  warmed  tear ! 
Drooping  she  bends  oer 
pensive  Fancy's  urn, 
To  trace  the  hours 
which  never  can  return 
Yet  with  the  retrospection 
loves  to  dwell, 
And  soothe  the  sorrows 
of  her  last  farewell! 

May  A.  Mann 

June  26,,  1889 

ilST  OF  PRESIDENTS  OF  FFWC  ,  1895-19  20 

1895-1397,  Mrs.  P. A.  Borden  Hamilton,  Village 
Improvement  Association,  Green  Cove  Springs. 

1897-1888,  Mrs.  N.C.  Wamboldt,  Town  Improvement 
Association,  Fairfield  (Jacksonville) . 

1899-1901,  Mrs.  J.C.  Beckman,  Woman's  Town  Improve- 
ment Association  and  Cemetery  Association,  Tarpon  Springs. 

19  01-1903,  Mrs.  W.W.  Cummer,  Woman's  Club,  Jackson- 
ville . 

1903-1S05,  Mrs.  Lawrence  Haynes,  Woman's  Club, 
Jacksonville . 

1905-1906,  Mrs.  Richard  F.  Adams,  Woman's  Fortnightly 
Club,  Palatka. 

1906-1908,  Mrs.  Charles  H.  Raynor ,  Palmetto  Club, 

1908-1910,  Mrs.  Thomas  M.  Shackleford,  Woman's  Club, 

1910-1912,  Mrs.  A.E.Frederick,  Woman's  Club, 

1912-1914,  Mrs.  William  A.  Eocker,  Woman's  Club, 

1914-1917,  Mrs.  W.S.  Jennings,  Woman's  Club,  Jackson- 

1917-1919,  Mrs.  Edgar  A.  Lewis,  Woman's  Club,  Fort 

1919-1921,  Mrs.  J.W.  McCollum,  20th  Century  Club, 
Gainesville . 

3  2! 


Part  I:  1905 

Date  of  Entry  Club 

1895       Village  Improvement  Association,  Green  Cove 

Village  Improvement  Association,  Tarpon 

Springs  (changed  to  Cycadia  Cemetery 

Village  Improvement  Association,  Crescent 

Village  Improvement  Association,  Orange 

Village  Improvement  Association,  Fairfield 


1897  Palmetto  Club,  Daytona 

Literary  and  Debating  Club,  Melrose 
Avilah,  Rockledge 

1898  Woman's  Club,  Jacksonville 
Woman's  Fortnightly  Club,  Palatka 
Village  Improvement  Association,  Ormond 



1901  Housekeepers,  Cocoanut  Grove 


1903  Village  Improvement  Association,  San  Mateo 

1904  Current  Events  Club,  Live  Oak 
20th  Century  Club,  Gainesville 
New  Century  Club,  High  Springs 

Village  Improvement  Association,  Lake  Como 

Woman's  Club,  Fort  Myers 

Current  Events  Club,  Tampa 

Married  Ladies'  Afternoon  Club,  Miami 




Part  II:  1914 

State  Section  I  [Citrus,  Sumter,  Lake,  Hernando,  Polk, 
Desoto,  Hillsborough,  Manatee,  and  Lee  Counties] 

Civic  League 
Woman ' s  Club 
Woman ' s  Club 
Woman ' s  Club 
Mother ' s  Club 
Woman ' s  Club 
Alpha  Sorosis 
Woman ' s  Civic  Club 
Woman ' s  Club 
Woman's  Club 
Woman's  Club 
Woman ' s  Club 
Woman ' s  Club 

Fortnightly  Club 

2  0th  Century  Club 

Woman ' s  Club 

Woman's  Town  Improvement  Association 

Woman's  Club 

Civics  Association 

Woman's  Club 

Woman's  City  Club 

Cycadia  Cemetery  Association 






Dade  City 

Fort  Myers 

Ladies  Village  Improvement  Association    Ozona 

Punta  Gorda 


St.  Petersburg 



Tarpon  Springs 


Civics  Club 
Woman ' s  Club 
Civic  League 
Civic  Leaque 

Winter  Haven 

State  Section  II  [Jefferson,  Madison,  Hamilton,  Columbia, 

Baker,  Nassau,  Taylor,  Suwannee,  Bradford,  Lafayette, 
Alachua,  Levy,  and  Marion  Counties] 

Woman ' s  Club 

Ladies  Civic  League 

20th  Century  Club 

New  Century  Club 

Village  Improvement  Club 

Woman's  Club 

Current  Topic  Club 

Woman1 s  Club 

Woman's  Club 

Woman ' s  Club 

Woman ' s  Club 

Woman ' s  Club 

Woman's  Club 

School  and  Civic  Club 




High  Springs 



Lake  City 


Live  Oak 






State  Section  III  [Escambia,  Santa  Rosa,  Walton,  Holmes, 

Washington,  Bay,  Jackson,  Calhoun,  Liberty,  Franklin, 
Gadsden,  Wakulla,  and  Leon  Counties] 

Woman's  Club 
Civic  League 
Woman's  Club 

Panama  City 




State  Section  IV  [Duval,  Clay,  St.  Johns,  Volusia  (part), 
and  Putnam  Counties] 

Crescent  City 



Federal  Point 

Green  Cove  Springs 


Village  Improvement  Association 


Woman ' s  Club 

Village  Improvement  Association 

Village  Improvement  Association 

Fairfield  Improvement  Association 

Ladies'  Civic  Improvement  Club  of 

Ladies'  Friday  Musicale 

Springfield  Improvement  Association 

New  Springfield  Woman ' s  Club 

Pan-Hellenic  Association 

Woman ' s  Club 

Woman's  Club  Orange  Park 

Village  Improvement  Association  Ormond 

Woman's  Club  Palatka 

Ladies  Village  Improvement  Association    San  Mateo 

Book  Club  South  Jacksonville 

Woman ' s  Club 

Woman's  Civic  League  St.  Augustine 

St.  Cecilia  Club 

Village  Improvement  Association  Welaka 


State  Section  V  [Volusia  (part),  Seminole,  Orange,  Brevard, 
Osceola,  St.  Lucia,  Palm  Beach,  Dade,  and  Monroe 

Woman ' s  Club 

Public  Library  Association 

The  Folio 


Woman ' s  Club 

Woman ' s  Club 

Woman's  Club 

Ladies'  Civic  Association 

Woman ' s  Club 

Woman ' s  Club 

The  Mothercraft  Club 

Woman ' s  Club 

Woman ' s  Club 

Village  Improvement  Club 


Woman's  Civic  League 

Ladies  Civic  Improvement  Club 

Woman's  Club 

Woman ' s  Club 

Progressive  Culture  Club 

Entre  Nous 



Cocoanut   Grove 

Fort  Lauderdale 
Fort  Pierce 
Key  West 

New  Smyrna 
Orange  City 

West  Palm  Beach 




irst  organized 



Green  Cove  Springs 




Green  Cove  Springs 
























Crescent  City 





9  th 























Live  Oak 
















West  Palm  Beach 














1915  (Autumn) 

1916  (Autumn) 

1917  (Autumn) 

1918  (Autumn) 

1919  (Autumn) 

St.  Petersburg 



Sung  at  GFWC  biennial  convention  Los  Angeles,  June,  1924, 

May  Mann  Jennings 
(to  the  tune  of  Auld  Lang  Syne) 

Should  work  and  merit  be  unsung 
or  unrewarded  stay? 

Then  praise  the  splendid  worthiness 
And  merits  of  our  May. 

May  Jennings  for  our  President 
Achievement,  charm  and  cheer 
To  carry  on  the  Winter ' s  work 
The  fruitful  Maytime's  here. 

Her  record  stands  for  all  to  read 
Performance  through  and  through 
A  tale  of  work  and  victory 
Of  lotfy  dreams  made  true. 

May  Jennings  for  our  President 
Achievement,  charm  and  cheer 
For  every  lav;  and  plan  we  need 
Make  her  the  engineer. 

North  and  South  and  East  and  West 

One  womanhood  we  stand 

And  loyally  uphold  the  best 

For  home  and  native  land. 

May  Jennings  then  for  President 
Achievement,  charm  and  cheer 
Her  splendid  service  let  us  crown 
With  faith  and  vision  clear. 

In  her  our  hopes  and  dreams  are  safe 
Our  seeking  meets  an  end 
Her  past  is  ours,  our  future  hers 
Hail,  Champion  and  Friend. 


May  Jennings  then  for  President 
Achievement,  charm  and  cheer. 
From  coast  to  coast  we  pledge  our  faith 
To  the  May time  of  the  Year. 

From  the  Florida  Bulletin,  III, 
No.  8,  May,  1924. 



Jennings,  May  Mann  Papers.   19  Boxes,  P.K.  Yonge  Library 
of  Florida  History,  Gainesville,  Florida. 

Jennings,  William  Sherman  Papers.   28  Boxes,  P.K.  Yonge 
Library  of  Florida  History,  Gainesville,  Florida. 

Mann,  Austin  Shuey  Papers.   3  Boxes,  P.K.  Yonge  Library 
of  Florida  History,  Gainesville,  Florida. 


Brooksville  The  Hernando  News,  July  25,  1391;  August 
22,  1891. 

News  Register,  January  23,  1895. 

Sun,  June  27,  1952;  November  28,  1952. 

Christian  Science  Monitor,  October  18,  1925. 

Daytona  Gazette-News,  June  22,  1901. 

Deland  Volusia  County  Record,  May  17,  1900. 

Eustis  Lake  Region,  September  5,  1901. 

Gainesville  Daily  Sun,  June  11,  1901. 

Jacksonville  Dixie,  November  8,  1912. 

Florida  Times-Union,  April  9,  15,  29,  1900; 

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Metropolis ,  February  28,  1906;  July  23, 

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Miami  Herald,  August  7,  1913;  November  24,  1916;  December 
7,  1947. 

New  Smyrna  News ,  February  20,  1926. 

New  York  American,  December  18,  1902. 

Palatka  Advertiser,  April  30,  1900. 

Sanford  Herald,  undated. 

Tallahassee  The  Daily  Capital,  December  5,  1901;  May  13, 

Daily  Floridian,  April  12,  1891;  May  14, 

Weekly  Floridian,  April  8,  1891;  May  27, 

Weekly  True  Democrat ,  December  11,  1914 

The  Weekly  Tallahassean,  January  10,  17,  1901;  May  23, 
1901;  October  25,  1901;  August  1,  1902;  July  17, 
1903;  August  7,  1903. 

Tampa   Sunland  Tribune,  October  20,  1882. 

Times,  May  10,  1900. 

Tribune,  May  28,  1900. 

Unidentified.  July  26,  1943;  June  21,  1945. 


Beautiful  Florida,  I,  November,  1924. 

,  V,  November,  192  8, 


,  V,  March,  1929. 

El  Figaro,  XVIII,  June,  1902. 

The  Florida  Bulletin,  IX,  August,  1929. 

Florida  Business  Review  and  Outlook,  XIII,  August,  1954. 

,  XV,  December,  19  56. 

,  XVIII,  February-March,  1959. 

,  XX,  September,  1961. 

,  XXI,  February,  1962. 

Florida  Magazine,  I,  November,  1900. 

,  IV,  March,  1902. 

Florida  School  Exponent,  III,  December,  1900. 

,  XVII,  June,  1910. 

The  Florida  Voter,  I,  April,  1925. 
Pascua  Florida,  II,  May,  1889. 

,  II,  June,  1891. 

,  XIV,  February,  1903. 

Southern  Woman's  Digest,  I,  April,  193  6. 

Sunnylands,  A  Florida  Monthly  Magazine,  III,  August,  1901. 

Woman ' s  Journal ,  XVIII,  April,  1917. 

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Prospectus.   Prospectus  of  St.  Joseph's  Academy,  St. 
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Minutes.   Minutes  of  the  Eigth  Annual  Convention  of  the 
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Steam  Printing  and  Publishing  House,  1889. 

Program.   Florida  Historical  Pageant,  Jacksonville:  Commu- 
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Program.   Souvenir  zum  Verbandsf est ,  1907. 

Yearbook.   The  Woman ' s  Club  of  Jacksonville,  1897-98, 
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Yearbook.   Young  Women's  Christian  Association,  1912-13, 
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Bennett,  Congressman  Charles.   November  5,  197  9,  Jackson- 
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Hightower,  Elizabeth  Bell  to  author,  July  2,  1978. 
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Akin,  Edward  Nelson.   "Southern  Reflections  of  the  Gilded 
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York  at  Buffalo,  1976). 

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1866-1923"  (Ph.D.  dissertation,  Florida  State  Univer- 
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1892"  (M.A.  thesis,  Florida  State  University,  1963). 

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dissertation,  University  of  Florida,  1952). 

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Florida"  (Ph.D.  dissertation,  Florida  State  Univer- 
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the  Sisters  of  St.  Joseph  of  St.  Augustine  to  Educa- 
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1960) . 

Pavlovsky,  Arnold  M.   "We  Busted  Because  We  Failed:  Florida 
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University,  1973) . 


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Goerge,  Paul  S.   "A  Cyclone  Hits  Miami:  Carrie  Nation's 
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Linda  Darlene  Moore  Vance  was  born  in  Fort  Worth, 
Texas,  August  9,  1938.   A  fifth-generation  Texan,  she 
attended  public  schools  in  Corpus  Christi.   Higher  educa- 
ton  was  pursued  at  The  University  of  Texas  at  Austin. 
She  received  a  bachelor's  degree  in  History  from  The  Uni- 
versity of  Houston  in  1964.   From  1964  to  1967  she  was  a 
research  assistant  at  the  Humanities  Research  Center, 
University  of  Texas.   She  is  married  to  Dr.  John  M.  Vance, 
Professor  of  Mechanical  Engineering.   They  have  four 
children.   Mrs.  Vance  has  authored  and  presented  several 
professional  papers  in  her  field.   She  is  a  member  of 
Phi  Alpha  Theta,  history  honorary  society,  Florida  Histori- 
cal Society,  and  Texas  History  Society. 


I  certify  that  I  have  read  this  study  and  that  in 
my  opinion  it  conforms  to  acceptable  standards  of  scholarly 
presentation  and  is  fully  adequate,  in  scope  and  quality, 
as  a  dissertation  for  the  degree  of^Doctor  of  Philosophy. 

X./7V  a. 



Samuel  Proctor,  Chairman 
Distinguished  Service  Professor 
of  History 

I  certify  that  I  have  read  this  study  and  that  in 
my  opinion  it  conforms  to  acceptable  standards  of  scholarly 
presentation  and  is  fully  adequate,  in  scope  and  quality, 
as  a  dissertation  for  the  degree  of  Doctor  of  Philosophy. 

LyUe  N .  M  ' n 

shed  Service  Professor 
of  History 

I  certify  that  I  have  read  this  study  and  that  in 
my  opinion  it  conforms  to  acceptable  standards  of  scholarly 
presentation  and  is  fully  adequate,-  in  scope  and  quality, 
as  a  dissertation  for  the  degree  of  Doctor  of  Philosophy. 

C .  tj6hn  Sommerville 

Associate  Professor  of  History 

I  certify  that  I  have  read  this  study  and  that  in 
my  opinion  it  conforms  to  acceptable  standards  of  scholarly 
presentation  and  is  fully  adequate,  in  scope  and  quality, 
as  a  dissertation  for  the  degree  of  Doctor  of  Philosophy. 

I  certify  that  I  have  read  this  study  and  that  in 
my  opinion  it  conforms  to  acceptable  standards  of  scholarly 
presentation  and  is  fully  adequate,  in  scope  and  quality, 
as  a  dissertation  for  the  degree  of  Doctor  of  Philosophy. 

Richard  K.  Scher 
Associate  Professor  of  Political 

This  dissertation  was  submitted  to  the  Graduate  Faculty  of 
the  Department  of  History  in  the  College  of  Liberal  Arts 
and  Sciences  and  to  the  Graduate  Council,  and  was  accepted 
as  partial  fulfillment  of  the  requirements  for  the  degree 
of  Doctor  of  Philosophy. 

August,  1980 

Dean,  Graduate  School 


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